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 you’re backpacking, or you’re just 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. And, 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 Tucker Bowe.
Adidas Terrex Trailmaker GTX
While technically a trail running shoe, the Terrex Trailmaker GTX is more than suitable for light hiking. Anything from day hikes to ultralight missions are right in the shoe’s wheelhouse. For grip, the Trailmaker utilizes Continental rubber, which is world famous for its car and bike tires.
Asolo Nucleon GV
The simple design of the Nucleon GV is what makes it so attractive. It features a lacing system, gleaned from rock climbing shoes, that extends all the way to the toes for an easily dialable fit. While not waterproof, the suede upper is water resistant and suitable for hikes in the southwest.
Hanwag Makra Low GTX
Hanwag, the German bootmaker known the world over for quality hiking boots, has absolutely nailed it with the Makra Low GTX. Waterproof, supportive, breathable and comfortable — what’s not to love? Much like the Asolo Nucleon, the Makra also features a climbing shoe–inspired lacing system.
Keen Targhee II WP
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, the Targhee II is an excellent choice.
Five Ten Camp Four
Five Ten, mostly touted for its bike and climbing shoes, also makes some stellar hiking and approach shoes. The Camp Four is the brand’s iconic silhouette. It utilizes Five Ten’s super-sticky S1 rubber compound for unmatched grip on a variety of surfaces.
La Sportiva Primer Low GTX
If your hikes verge on the precipice of trail runs, the Primer Low is the perfect fit. A Gore-Tex Surround liner, Nano-Cell rubberized upper and a Vibram sole combine to create a shoe that is sure to satisfy even the most aggressive of light hikers.
Lowa Arco GTX Lo
If handcrafted quality is what you’re after, but you don’t want to shell out for a fully custom boot, Lowas are a great option. The embossed split leather upper ensures durability while a Gore-Tex liner ensures that your foot will stay dry even in the most rain-soaked conditions.
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Synthetic Hiking Boots
Keen Aphlex Mid WP
While not as supportive as other boots on this list, the Aphlex Mid makes up for it in comfort. The boot shapes and adapts to the contours of your foot extremely well. Perhaps its best feature, however, is the built-in “Cleansport NXT” odor protection that helps fight against stinky boots.
Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX
One of our favorite boots on this list. Salewa, above all else, has fit absolutely dialed. Even fresh out of the box, they are comfortable enough to take on a day hike. Of course with many miles and many hours spent on the trail, they get even better. What boot doesn’t?
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.
The North Face Ultra Fastpack II Mid GTX
The Ultra Fastpack II is aimed squarely at hikers and backpackers that like to go fast and light. The flexible sole is super comfortable and suitable for carrying light loads. The lacing system is also notable for its cradling system that hugs the foot snugly to the sole.
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.
Under Armour Newell Ridge Mid GTX
The Newell Ridge is designed to be an ultra-lightweight, comfortable boot that still provides ample support for your ankles. If you like to go fast and light, it’s a great option. The boot is breathable, and will still keep your feet nice and dry with its Gore-Tex liner.
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Leather Hiking Boots
Peter Limmer Custom Hiking Boots
When it comes to hiking boots, Peter Limmers are the crème de la crème. Handmade in New Hampshire, there is simply no substitute for having your boots custom made for the shape of your foot.
Vasque Breeze III GTX
The Breeze is one of the best-selling boots on the market, and this year, Vasque completely redesigned it. It’s everything you love about the Breeze II, with the addition of a Gore-Tex liner and Vibram Megagrip sole compound.
Danner Mountain 600
While most Danner boots offer support and durability with a classic silhouette, the Mountain 600 takes those things and mates them with a modern aesthetic and all the bells and whistles of the most technologically advanced boots on the market.
Oboz Wind River II Mid WP
While Oboz might not be quite as well known in the hiking boot space as other brands on this list, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve to be. The Wind River II WP is a simple, rugged, hard-wearing boot that fits great out of the box and only gets better with 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 and 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.
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 it 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.
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.