Written by 8:31 pm Travel Gear

Best Hiking Shoes

Photo of a woman's legs and muddy feet in close-up on a hiking path

Regardless of whether you’re an intrepid explorer, a keen runner, or prefer to stick to the trails, you need to make sure that you’re properly equipped for your journey, right down to what’s on your feet!

Wearing hiking shoes is vital for both your comfort and safety. Not wearing the right footwear can leave your feet with blisters and callouses, as well as cause permanent injury to your hip and knees over a long period of time.

Finding the best hiking shoes can be a lengthy process, but to make it easier we’ve put together this handy little guide to help you out. Our recommendations and top tips will mean that you never have to feel discomfort whilst hiking again.

We’ve searched long and hard to find the best hiking shoes of 2020. Lightweight, heavy-duty, low traction, wide sizes, waterproof – you name it, we’ve got it! Keep reading to find out more and discover the best shoes for you.

Types of Hiking Shoes

There are many different types of hiking shoes, and finding the right ones can either make or break a hike experience. The type of shoe you decide on will depend on the trips you tend to go on, what you prioritize in footwear, and how often you’ll be using your new shoes. Read on to find out more about the top types of hiking shoes available!

Ultralight Hiking Shoes

If you’re someone who goes on a lot of day hikes or trail runs, then you might want to opt for ultralight hiking shoes. These are best in such instances because they won’t add any extra weight to your load, nor will they slow you down.

For a trail runner, ultralight shoes make the most sense because they are comfortable and much less risky than wearing a pair of heavy backpacking boots. Lighter shoes mean you’re less susceptible to muscle fatigue and injury through stumbling or tripping. However, an ultralight shoe is less suitable for those who need the extra support and stability.

Waterproof Hiking Shoes

If you’re someone who tends to hike in rainy or snowy weather, then it makes sense to invest in a pair of waterproof hiking shoes.

Waterproofing repels moisture, meaning that your socks and feet can remain dry even if your external environment isn’t. This can be incredibly useful in some circumstances, but not so useful in others. Sometimes waterproofing can trap liquids in your shoe, meaning that your feet can get very sweaty and the shoe can become uncomfortable.

It’s also worth remembering that if your hiking boot gets fully submerged underwater, such as if you pass through deep puddles, a ravine, or a ditch, then your foot and sock will get wet and struggle to dry. Whereas if you have a non-waterproof shoe, it will dry much faster.

Hiking Boots

A hiking boot is a more durable option compared to a shoe or trail runner. Boots provide a lot of ankle support due to their shape, they support the body, and they tend to be more waterproof.

For the seasoned off-trail hiker or fan of backpacking trips, this is the preferred choice due to their sturdiness and therefore how long they last. This is not to say that they don’t have their downsides, however. Many hiking boots are much heavier and become more weighed down when wet. Luckily this is not often because most boots are waterproof.

Keep in mind that boots are the heaviest of all types of hiking shoes, so only consider purchasing if you don’t mind carrying the extra weight. If you’re happy to spend a little extra and invest, then there are certain lightweight boots that would be a perfect choice. Check out our list below for the best options!

Trail Runners

For those who are after a lightweight and comfortable option, trail running shoes are ideal. Thru-hiking and long-distance hiking enthusiasts favor trail runners due to their size and weight, as well as the comfort factor which makes them suitable for long distances.

What’s more, most trail running shoes are breathable which allows for your feet to manage moisture well and avoid blisters. Trail shoes may be less suited to people wanting a shoe that will last a long time and see them through anything. These types of hiking shoes tend to need replacing after approximately 500 trail miles.

Top 15 Best Hiking Shoes

1. Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1lb 15oz | Sizing: 7-16 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof:  No

First up on our list is the Merrell Moab 2 hiking shoe for men. Ideal for the avid adventurer, these shoes keep moisture out while remaining breathable, and use performance suede leather and a mesh upper. The inclusion of leather gives these shoes a level of water resistance, and the Vibram sole will further keep feet dry and prevent water damage.

It’s no wonder that Moab stands for Mother Of All Boots: the brand has a strong reputation as being reliable, durable, and comfortable. Not only are they perfect for rocky terrain and lengthy hikes, but can be used day-to-day if you tend to stand up a lot and do a lot of walking.

Pro's:
  • Breathable mesh lining
  • Good budget option
  • High-performance rubber sole
  • Excellent traction
Cons:
  • More lightweight options available

2. Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10 St Trail Running Shoe

Weight: 11.3oz | Sizing: 6-14 (wide and half sizing available)  | Waterproof: Yes

Another reliable and reputable shoe, the Saucony Peregrine 10 is the best for trail runners. More and more these days, hikers are turning to trail runner shoes instead of traditional boots. Trail runners are lightweight and comfortable, which makes them perfect for a long day of hiking!

The Peregrine 10 come with aggressive lugs and is water-resistant, making it ideal for rocky terrain and adverse weather conditions. They also have a high-quality cushioning that allows for maximum comfort without compromising responsiveness or protectiveness.

Pro's:
  • Aggressive lugs that can be used across a variety of terrains
  • Rock plate that provides additional protection
  • Ideal for trail runners
Cons:
  • Premium price
  • Often sell out quickly

3. Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1lb 14oz | Sizing: 7-16 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof:  Yes

If you’re a fan of the Merrell Moab 2, but need a waterproof shoe, then look no further. This pair has all the same features and advantages of the Moab 2 Vent hiking shoe, but with added water resistance.

Merrell uses M-Select Dry to keep out water and ensure that your feet and socks remain dry whilst allowing moisture to escape. This means that, unlike other waterproof shoes, there is no risk of dampness as a result of trapped sweat. For a hiking shoe with added resilience, the Moab 2 waterproof option comes out on top.

Pro's:
  • Excellent water resistance
  • Performance suede leather and mesh upper
  • Vibram traction
Cons:
  • Less suited to those wanting a lightweight option

4. ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe

Weight: 10.5oz | Sizing: 8-16 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof: No

ALTRA has designed a slick and sophisticated, lightweight trail runner shoe which is ideal for nearly every type of hike! The Lone Peak 4.5 is an updated model of ALTRA’s original running shoe which puts the emphasis on comfort and flexibility.

Users have commended the Lone Peak 4.5 for its resilient feel and added cushioning, as well as its classic features, which is what sets this shoe apart from its competitors. It has a Maxtrac rubber outsole with Trackclaw canted lugs, making it suited to adverse terrains at the same time as providing ankle support.

Pro's:
  • Excellent trail running footwear
  • Simplified lacing system for improved micro-adjustment
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Some users prefer heavier footwear
  • Only suited to those wanting trail runner shoes

5. Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex Men’s Hiking Shoes

Weight: 13.4oz | Sizing: 7-15 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof: Yes

For a premium pair of waterproof shoes, Salomon is the ideal option. The X Ultra 3 incorporates luxury and style with superior hiking technology.

This shoe has been designed to make you as comfortable as possible during your journeys. Its descent control technology allows you to tackle technical hikes and tough descents, made even easier by its foam cushioning. It also has the advantage of an added gtx membrane to protect you from outside conditions and keep the inside of your shoe dry.

There are not many hiking shoes on the market as impressive as the Salomon X Ultra 3. If you’re looking to make an investment and improve your hiking trips, you need look no further.

Pro's:
  • Some users prefer heavier footwear
  • Sophisticated technology
  • Quick lacing system
  • Ideal as backpacking boots or for day hikes
Cons:
  • Less suited to those who want a breathable shoe
  • Premium price

6. Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3 Running Shoe

Weight: 9.7oz | Sizing: 8-16 (wide and half sizing available)| Waterproof:  No

Similar to the Lone Peak 4.5, the ALTRA Lone Peak 3 is another excellent running shoe. It comes at a premium price but is well worth it for its features and design.

One of its most impressive attributes is its wide toe box, eliminating any chances of discomfort or injury caused by narrowness. What’s more, this shoe was designed specifically with gnarly terrains in mind, so there is no need to worry that it won’t be suitable for the adventures you have planned!

Pro's:
  • Roomy toe box allows for toe splay
  • Premium choice among runners
  • Improved upper support
Cons:
  • Premium price
  • Not suited to those wanting a heavy-duty boot

7. Brooks Men’s Cascadia 12

Weight: 12.1oz | Sizing: 3.5-16 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof:  No

If you’re after a good quality trail runner shoe for an excellent price, then the Brooks Cascadia 12 is ideal.

This model is Brooks’ most popular of all their trail running shoes, and it’s easy to see why. Its midsole cushioning adds flexibility and adapts to your movements, whilst its added insole crash pads accommodate for any landing and provide much-needed protection against gnarly terrains.

Don’t just take our word for it, go for the Cascadia 12 and see why they’re so well-known amongst hikers!

Pro's:
  • Rugged outsole for excellent traction
  • Popular footwear amongst trail runners and thru-hikers
  • Ballistic rock-shield protects against surface hazards
Cons:
  • Less suitable for those wanting a heavy-duty boot

8. Salomon Men’s XA Pro 3D Trail Running Shoes

Weight: 16.9oz | Sizing: 7-15 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof:  No

For the seasoned trail runner, the Salomon XA Prod 3D shoes are the best choice. They use the latest technology in hiking footwear and offer durability, flexibility, and comfort.

They are designed to give a precise fit and an excellent level of stability due to the 3D chassis which keeps the foot secure without jeopardizing mobility. Any concerns you may have about hiking can be alleviated when wearing the XA Pro 3D, leaving you free to enjoy and explore without limits.

Pro's:
  • Sensifit with speed lacing systems makes for a comfortable fit
  • Aggressive lug design ensures grip on nearly all surfaces
  • Understated and sophisticated design
Cons:
  • Premium price

9. New Balance Men’s Leadville v3 Trail Shoe

Weight: 10.4oz | Sizing: 4-20 (wide and half sizing available)| Waterproof: No

New Balance is well-known for designing reliable sportswear. The Leadville v3 is no different. Built for trail runners, thru-hikers, and even for everyday activities, this shoe has design features to support you no matter what.

The Leadville v3 uses a Vibram outsole for the best traction, REVlite cushioning for maximum comfort, and has prioritized weight so that you can enjoy the experience of your hike without feeling weighed down.

Pro's:
  • Lightweight design
  • Ideal for trail running and the uppers
  • Wide selection of sizes
Cons:
  • Often out of stock

10. Saucony Men’s Peregrine 8 Running Shoe

Weight: 10oz | Sizing: 3-16 (wide and half sizing available)| Waterproof: No

Fans of lighter trail runner shoes should look no further than the Saucony Peregrine 8. Ideal for day hikes, this shoe comes at a more affordable price than its competitors without compromising on quality.

Don’t be put off by the price-tag: the Peregrine 8 can be taken off-road with no worries necessary. Its rubber sole and excellent traction make it suitable for a variety of terrains. Not to mention, this shoe has even won awards for its design, being named “Best for Speed” by Gear Patrol!

Pro's:
  • Suitable for a variety of terrains and surfaces
  • Excellent budget option
  • Ideal for thru-hiking or long-distance hiking
Cons:
  • Not as durable as hiking boots
  • More premium options available

11. Adidas Men’s Rockadia Trail M Running Shoe

Weight: 12oz | Sizing: 4-13.5 (wide and half sizing available)| Waterproof: No

An ideal choice if you’re shopping on a budget, Adidas’ Rockadia shoe is perfect for the trail runner.

This shoe is one of the best when it comes to the balance between comfort and durability. It comes in wide sizes, making it suitable to many. The Rockadia also offers an OrthoLite sockliner and rugged traction which ensures excellent off-road performance, without having to deal with the difficulties that a heavy hiking boot can bring.

The Adidas Rockadia Trail Running shoe is the perfect mix of lightweight, comfortable and reliable.

Pro's:
  • Excellent option if shopping on a budget
  • Mesh and knit upper for breathability
  • Traxion outsole for maximum grip
Cons:
  • More premium options available
  • Some users reported sizing issues

12. Salewa Men’s Wander Hiker Leather Hiking Shoe

Weight: 13.1oz | Sizing: 4-15 (wide and half sizing available)| Waterproof: No

A sturdier option, the Salewa Wander Leather Hiking Shoe is equipped for difficult terrains and rugged trails, in both wet and dry conditions.

Designed with a durable nubuck leather upper and a full-grain leather lining, this shoe has excellent moisture management and a good level of breathability. The leather feature makes these low-cut boots adapt to the shape of your foot; you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable pair for this price. Leather is a rarity with modern hiking footwear, so snatch these up while you can!

Pro's:
  • Full-grain leather lining and nubuck leather upper
  • Ideal for long-distance or off-trail hiking
  • Supportive and durable boot
  • Roomy toe box
Cons:
  • Premium price
  • Less suited to beginners

13. KEEN Men’s Targhee 3 Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Weight: 15.87oz | Sizing: 7-17 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof: Yes

The KEEN Targhee III hiking shoe has it all. This is a truly superior option, and a real investment if you’re an enthusiastic hiker.

This is an upgrade of the classic KEEN Targhee waterproof shoe, and you can really feel the improvements. A leather upper brings adaptability and comfort to this shoe, whilst the unique breathable membrane ensures that your foot stays dry whilst preventing a moisture buildup.

The new low height of the Keen Targhee III makes it suitable to virtually any condition. It’s suited to backpacking trips in particular due to the sturdiness of the shoe’s design.

Pro's:
  • Waterproof yet breathable membrane
  • Rubber outsole provides high traction grip
  • Removable footbed allows for tailored comfort and arch support
Cons:
  • Less suited to trail running or day hikes due to weight

14. Adidas outdoor Men’s Terrex AX3 GTX Hiking Boot

Weight: 13.9oz | Sizing: 5.5-14.5 (half sizing available) | Waterproof: Yes

A classic appearance and design, the Adidas Terrex AX3 is a sleek and stylish option.

The shoe is equipped with gtx technology, meaning that it is completely waterproof and suitable for a variety of weather conditions. Not to mention, the rubber outsole makes it ideal for wet or dry surfaces due to the excellent grip that this provides and a torsion bar has been included to provide exceptional stability during your hike.

Pro's:
  • An excellent lightweight hiking boot option
  • Breathable lining
  • Sturdy toe cap provides extra coverage when hiking
Cons:
  • More premium models are available
  • Some hikers prefer shoes that are not waterproof

15. The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 WP Trail Shoe

Weight: 13.9oz  | Sizing: 7-14.5 (wide and half sizing available) | Waterproof: Yes

The North Face is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to outdoor technology, and for good reason.

The Ultra 109 WP combines an efficient lacing system, roomy toe box with a robust toe cap, and guaranteed all-terrain excellent traction, making this an obvious choice for the avid hiker or trail runner. Pair this with modern waterproofing, and you have a failsafe trail shoe that is not only durable and practical but stylish and comfortable.

Pro's:
  • Well-known option amongst hikers
  • PU-coated leather mudguard and performance mesh for durability
  • DryVent membrane for waterproofing
Cons:
  • Not a budget option
  • Less durable than boots

Considerations When Choosing Hiking Shoes

Choosing the right hiking shoe for you can be a challenge when faced with so many different options. To help narrow it down for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the considerations you should make when choosing your shoe.

Comfort

Comfort is crucial to think about when picking your perfect shoes. The chances are that you’re going to be wearing them for hours on end to climb uphill and navigate difficult terrains, so it’s imperative that they don’t cause any discomfort.

An uncomfortable hiking shoe could lead to serious issues during your trip and make it harder for the hike to be completed. To ensure comfort, try out a few different shoes before you find the one that fits you best. If your shoes are too small this could pinch your toes and cause pain, and if your shoes are too big then your feet can slide in them, creating painful blisters.

We recommend wearing your new shoes around the house and while you’re out running errands so that you can break them in a little before embarking on your hike!

Price Point

The cost of your hiking shoes is another careful consideration to make. Making an investment in a premium, expensive pair of shoes is worth it to some, but for those of you shopping on a budget – don’t worry!

If you are looking for a low price-point, then it’s doubly important to do your research before purchase. The comfort and fit of your shoes is vital for the enjoyment of your trip, and you don’t want to compromise on this by purchasing the first budget-option you see.

A lot of people are willing to splash out on their shoes as long as they are guaranteed durability, comfort, and a perfect fit. We’ve included the best in both premium and budget hiking shoes in our list above so that regardless of what your requirements are, we can help you find what you’re looking for.

Weight

This may be a lesser-known consideration, but it’s important to think about: weight bearing down on your feet can use up to five times more energy than weight on your back! A lightweight hiking shoe means you have less chance of muscle fatigue or joint problems, and you’re less likely to trip or fall over.

However, if you’re a seasoned or rugged hiker and used to carrying weight, then a sturdier pair of shoes might be a better fit for you.

Materials

The materials of your boots can be a big indicator of their quality and durability, so it’s important to find a pair with the best materials.

Many hikers favor a grain leather lining and nubuck leather upper. Leather is a luxury material and is often on the more expensive side, but it’s well worth it due to its longevity and high quality. Grain leather is a good choice because it adapts its shape to your foot, making it very comfortable. Not only this, but leather is likely to last a long time as long as it is treated well.

Everyone is different, and the materials which work for one person may be totally wrong for the next person. It’s best to read through our guide and figure out what you value most in a hiking shoe, and let this help you make your decision. However, don’t forget to always choose boots which use premium quality materials.

Waterproofing

There are pros and cons to choosing a waterproof hiking shoe. It’s the preferred choice for many who hike in wet, snowy, or muddy areas. They prevent your socks and feet from getting wet by repelling moisture, which is vital for obvious reasons when hiking in certain conditions.

If you tend to hike in warmer temperatures, then a waterproof hiking shoe may not be the best choice. The waterproofing technology also tends to trap sweat within the shoe, meaning that it can be disastrous in the heat, leaving your feet damp and dank.

Non-waterproof shoes make more sense if you’re the type to embark on long-distance hikes. This is because the chances are that your feet are going to get wet on this type of trip, so it’s best to at least have a shoe which is breathable and fast drying rather than one which is only suited to particular weather conditions.

Weigh up your options, think about when you go hiking most often, and make an educated decision after this. We have the best picks for both waterproof and non-waterproof hiking shoes on our list to make your choice easier!

Type

There are many different types of hiking shoes. Picking the right one for you can seem overwhelming, but really it just boils down to what you’re going to be using your new shoes for and what is most important to you.

At the top of this guide is a breakdown of the best types of shoe: hiking boots, trail runner, waterproof, and ultralight shoes. Reading over this should give you a clearer idea of the type of shoe you need. After this, new considerations are needed. Will you be using this shoe a lot? Are you looking to make an investment, or keep within a tight budget?

We have solutions for all of these queries. Our top 15 list comes complete with the best and latest in hiking shoes so that you don’t have to spend hours researching what it is you need – let us do it for you!

Traction

Hiking involves difficult terrains such as rivers and streams, rocky narrow paths, and muddy fields. Finding a shoe that is practical and adept at keeping your foot safe in these disparate conditions is of high importance.

High-quality traction is one feature that you can’t compromise on when choosing your hiking shoes. Picking a shoe with low traction puts you at risk of serious injury from falling or slipping over. The lug pattern on your shoe sole is what will indicate its performance. Deep lugs are useful in mud and loose dirt, whereas shallow lugs are better on hard-packed trails. What you pick will depend on the type of hiking you engage in.

FAQs

Which Brand of Hiking Shoes are the Best?

There are so many brands of hiking shoes, and this can make it difficult to narrow it down to the best. It’s easy to go for the most well-known brand, but this isn’t always the most sensible choice.

The best brand will depend on what you want out of a hiking boot. If you’re a beginner and looking for an all-round durable and comfortable hiking shoe, then going for a reliable and long-established brand such as Saucony or Salomon is a failsafe option. These brands are built around hiking and the outdoors, so they are well-respected in the hiking community and always deliver on good quality footwear.

If you’re in the market for more specialist hiking shoes, then the brand you choose will be dependent on what you’re looking for in a shoe. Brands like Merrell and Altra can provide the ideal footwear, albeit for very different hikers with very different needs.

Before narrowing down hiking shoes to a single brand, consider that each brand caters towards particular types of hikers and includes their own special selling points.

What are the Best Water Shoes for Hiking?

The best water shoes will include a breathable fabric membrane in them in order to make them not just water-resistant, but totally waterproof. Gore-tex and M-Select Dry are two of the most popular choices on the market at the moment. We’ve included options on our ‘Top 15’ list which include both of these technologies.

Salomon and Merrell are among two of the best water shoes for hiking. Their reputations speak for themselves and they create innovative and effective waterproof shoes. However, what works best is different for everyone. Many people swear by gtx or mid-gtx as a means of waterproofing, whereas others believe that M-Select Dry or even a different choice such as KEEN.DRY can do just as good a job.

We believe that all of the above options have unique advantages, it’s just a matter of personal preference!

What Kind of Shoes Should Hikers Wear?

The kind of shoes that a hiker should wear depends on what kind of hiking they’re doing, how often they take hiking trips, and what they value most in their shoes.

If you tend to go off-trail on your hikes and encounter hazardous surfaces, then you need durable hiking boots. High-quality hiking boots will usually be waterproof in order to keep your feet dry in the case of wet weather conditions, as well as have excellent traction and a wide toe box for maximum comfort.

Hikers and backpackers alike often opt for hiking boots due to their sturdiness. However, others prefer running shoes, which tend to be more lightweight and comfortable. This type of shoe is the most suited to day hikes and thru-hiking. Trail running shoes are not always waterproof, but this can have its advantages. Check out our considerations when choosing your shoe to figure out if waterproofing is the right choice for you.

There are many options for a hiker when choosing their shoes. Whichever shoe you go for though, it’s important to make sure that it has all of the right features, otherwise, you risk wasting your money and potentially causing yourself discomfort or harm. All hiking boots and shoes should be comfortable, fit your foot precisely, be suited to your chosen terrain, and have adequate traction.

How to Find Well-Fitting Hiking Shoes

Finding boots that fit you like a glove is very important. Discomfort can be a serious issue when hiking, regardless of what type of hiker you are. A shoe that fits properly ensures comfort, ease of use, and means that you can focus on the beauty of your hike instead of wondering why your feet hurt so much!

If you have wide feet, then we recommend purchasing a hiking shoe that is specifically designed for this in mind, or one with wide sizing available. If not, you’ll find that your toes pinch in the shoe and that it is not comfortable enough.

Another key consideration is making sure that your toes have enough space. Many of the hiking shoes on the list above come with a spacious or wide toe box to allow comfort and ease for your foot.

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