10 Best Hiking Boots Tested and Fully Reviewed
A good pair of hiking boots is essential for anyone regularly hitting the trails. Although typically a little bulkier, some of the benefits of boots can be preferable to hiking shoes. Boots will improve the comfort of your feet and can protect your joints from the impact of the rugged terrain. The higher build provides great stability and often they’ll have thicker midsole cushioning which can help propel you forward while keeping you comfortable. Fortunately, these boots do not need to weigh you down and many modern models have such comfortable flexibility that you may forget to take them off when you reach camp.
Finding the right boots can be a chore and an investment so we put together the following list of some diverse hiking boots to help you find the best pair to suit your needs.
- Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
- Good Ankle Stability
- Lowa Renegade GTX
- Merrell Moab 2
10 Best Hiking Boots
1. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
The high cut of these boots rises up 6 inches from the arch to provide ample ankle support for those carrying a heavy load. Reviewers appreciate the adjustable lace system with 2 hooks along the ankle. Stopping at the first hook gives a bit more flexibility for a mid-boot feel or you can increase stability by lacing the boots to the top. Either setting feels secure and the foot seems to remain solidly in place. The sole provides good lateral stability without being inflexible.
Users find the Contragrip outsole and solid lugs perform well in wet and dry conditions.
Users are impressed by the immediate comfort and short break-in period for these boots. The combination of Nuback leather and nylon provides good flexibility and the 2 lbs and 13 ounces do not make feet feel heavy. Some reviewers feel the insole is a is too thin and prefer to switch this out for their own insoles. Users find the high ankles and waterproofing does an excellent job at keeping water out, even during quick creek crossings where feet are submerged completely. The newer version does seem to be a bit narrower than the original and users with wider feet do not find them as comfortable.
Unfortunately, this is wear these light to mid weight boots fall short. The boots do hold up well for a period of time but some users note premature separation of the sole or fraying at the seams.
These boots are on the more expensive end and some users find themselves disappointed by their durability considering the cost.
Comfortable out of the box
Short break in period
Good ankle stability
Not the most durable
Not great for wide feet
2. Lowa Renegade GTX
Users love the Lowa Renegade for its balance between lightweight flexibility and ruggedness. It has significantly more rigidity through the underfoot than light hikers but does not feel too stiff or inflexible. Nuback leather uppers provide good structure while remaining flexible and the mid-ankle cut, rising up about 5 inches from the arch, gives solid ankle support. The lace system does not lock in the heel quite as well as the Salomon Quest but it does provide a good customizable feel.
Vibram outsoles mix rubber with hard lugs to provide reliable grip in a variety of conditions.
Similar to the Salomon Quest, these hiking boots require very little time to break in. Users not they are very comfortable right out of the box and the adjustable lace system is great for accommodating a variety of foot sizes and shapes. They are reported to run a bit small and the company recommends ordering a half size up.
The thin leather upper provides flexibility and comfort right out of the box but does not do much in terms of long-term durability. Some users note separation of the upper from the sole after not very much time but are thankful it does not take much time to break in the next set.
The Lowa Renegade is similar in cost with the Salomon quest and has some of the same issues with durability. Some users find them a bit expensive to continue replacing while others find the excellent comfort worth every penny.
Little break in period
Not the most durable
Does not lock in foot quite as well
3. Merrell Moab 2
This flexible hiking shoe has more support than a trail runner but is much more flexible through the underfoot and collar than low top hiking boots. For short day hikes, this flexibility is great for keeping you moving quickly and does provide significantly more support for ankles than a regular running or even trail running shoe.
The rubber Vibram outsoles provide good traction but are not the best on dry and dusty descents.
The Merrell Moab offers unrivaled comfort as a hiking shoe and requires no time to break in. Extra padding around the collar and tongue provide comfort around the ankle opening. Flexible build in the upper and footbed is so comfortable that many users prefer these are regular walking shoes. The cushioning is a bit thinner through the footbed so some rocks can be felt along the bottom of the foot.
The Moab line is a great option for reliable durability. The waterproofing will need to be refreshed annually but the shoe holds up very well especially when considering the lightweight design.
Consistently under 150 dollars this is a decent option for casual hikers.
Comfortable for all day wear
No break-in period
Rubber outsoles do not grip all surfaces as well
Thinner padding through the footbed
Under Armour Verge 2.0 Mid GTX
The Verge 2.0 shoes may not look rough and tumble, but they do have the stability and protection to carry you through tough terrain. The combination of welded overlays and ESS rock plates bring great support and help with stability while you’re hiking.
The Michelin rubber outsoles are molded to the Wild Gripper lug pattern, so they provide decent traction without being obtrusive.
These are more lightweight than most heavy-duty hiking boots, with light EVA midsoles and a breathable outer membrane. The quality Gore-Tex 100% waterproofing is good for dewy hikes and misty treks, offering protection from mild weather.
Tough welded supports and rock plate protectors add extra durability, while quick-dry materials help extend the life of these shoes. Textile uppers may prove easier to care for than various types of leather that usually need a little more care, but may also not provide the same level of durability that leather does.
Although different size options and colors may affect the price the range of these shoes dips below most of the other boots on our list, potentially making them a cost-friendly option for buyers on a budget. Even at the higher cost, the price is definitely justified by all of the great features and versatility of this shoe.
- More affordable depending on size and color
- Wild Gripper lug pattern
- 100% waterproof Gore-Tex finish
- Trendy color options
- Breathable, quick-dry material
- EVA molded midsole
- Welded supports and ESS rock plates
- Good compromise between boots and shoes
- May fit small
5. Scarpa R-Evolution GTX
These boots have a sturdy feel the second you put them on. The midsole is substantial and feels solid underfoot and the boot hits high on the ankle to provide support. This is a solid boot for backpacking with heavy loads but is not clunky and performs more like a light alpine boot.
Vibram outsoles provide excellent traction on wet and dry trails.
The R-evolution features a sock-fit design with a memory foam-padded tongue to cradle the foot and prevent fabric from bunching. The stiff build of these boots requires a short break-in period to conform to the foot. However, even during this break-in time, few users report blisters. The innovative sock-fit tongue and lacing system allows for a more customized fit without pinching making this a comfortable option for a variety of foot widths.
The suede uppers and stitching on these boots makes them feel well made and high quality. Users find they stand up well to rugged trail conditions and resist abrasions. A few reviewers found that the green color on the tongue does bleed onto socks when wet. Others wish the laces felt more substantial and report some issues with the laces slipping during use.
Well over 200 dollars, these are on the more expensive end for hiking boots. The innovative fit system and precision build do set these apart from a lot of the competition.
Abrasion resistant suede uppers
Substantial midfoot support
Sock-fit system to prevent bunching
Good ankle support
Some break-in required
Dye bleeds onto socks
6. Salomon X Ultra Mid 2
The Salomon X Ultra offers flexible and lightweight support up to the mid-ankle that can help prevent ankle rolls with light to medium weight packs. The midsole has a low profile to help the foot feel grounded and stable.
Salomon’s Contragrip outsoles create great traction on a variety of surfaces.
Feeling like a hybrid between hiking boot and running shoe, these boots excel in the area of comfort. They have mesh paneling and a lightweight feel that makes them breathable despite the waterproof Gore-Tex lining.
These boots feel like a trail runner but offer substantially more durability. A protective synthetic upper prevents mesh from developing tears. The tread will wear down eventually but most users feel they can get many miles in before they need to be replaced.
Under 200 dollars, these are a good midrange option. Fans of this boot feel the lightweight comfort is worth investing in time and time again.
Comfort of a trail runner with support of a hiking boot
Mid ankle support
Waterproof Gore-Tex liner
Not ideal for cold weather hiking
7. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus
The Newton Ridge Plus has good support through the sides and ankle but the underfoot does not cradle the foot quite as well as some other designs. For day hiking these boots will provide good stability to prevent ankles from rolling.
Omnigrip lugged outsole provides good grip. Users find they work great on rocky surfaces but do not perform as well as Vibram outsoles on loose gravel or wet conditions.
Despite the full grain leather upper, these boots are easy to break in and are fairly comfortable out of the box. Those with higher arches do prefer their own inserts for additional arch support. Many users also find the heavy leather and waterproofing to be a bit to warm for hot conditions.
These boots are very durable especially considering the budget price tag.
At less than 100 dollars these shoes are a bargain. They provide good ankle support and traction for hikes wear running shoes just won’t cut it.
Quality full-grain leather uppers
Good ankle support
Not very breathable
Little arch support
8. Vasque Breeze 2.0
The Vasque Breeze provides lightweight and flexible support through the upper. It holds the ankle well when bearing light to medium loads over rocky or loose terrain. The molded EVA footbed provides a good hold for the heel and absorbs shock as you hit the ground.
The Vibram outsole provides excellent grip in a variety of terrain and seems perform very well on loose rock. Some users do note some slippage on wet surfaces which is unfortunate for such a great waterproof boot.
This lightweight option is another one that can be very comfortable right out of the box. The flexible nuback leather and nylon mesh panels require very little time to break in and reviewers love the sturdy feel of the footbed. The only complaint when it comes to comfort, is that these shoes do run a bit narrow.
Overall these shoes have a quality and durable construction. The waterproofing lasts a long time, particularly when treated with DWR after a year or so. A few reviewers did find that the hook for the lace broke off after some time.
At less than 200 dollars these are inexpensive to mid-range for high quality hiking boots.
No break-in period
Good ankle support
Waterproof Gore-Tex liner
Good for hot weather hiking
Less traction on wet surfaces
Run narrow in size
9. Keen Targhee II
The Keen Targhee offers more in the way of waterproofing and foot protection than support for hiking. The mid-cut height does provide solid ankle support but the underfoot structure is somewhat lacking.
Keen rubber outsoles provide traction comparable to Vibrams. The traction is very good on wet surfaces but the lack of mid-foot support can lead to unsure footing on more challenging descents.
Comfort is the main selling point of these hiking boots. They have a softer, padded feel that opposes the rigidity of most hiking boots. The Keen Dry technology effectively waterproofs these boots while remaining more breathable than those with full Gore-Tex liners.
These Keen boots are well built and highly durable. Some users note a few scratches to the Nuback leather uppers but no substantial damage.
These are mid-range in price. If you are planning to stick to trails and are seeking comfortable waterproofing and support, these Keen boots are worth the investment.
Lacking support through the midfoot
Not ideal for more technical hikes
10. Ariat Terrain H2O Copper
The full grain leather uppers give this boot a sturdy feel with support that rises to the mid ankle. The footbed features Ariat’s exclusive ATS (Advanced Torque Stability) technology to cradle the foot and provide multi-directional support.
The outsole is made from Ariat’s Duratread technology which employs a proprietary rubber compound for a flexible and slip-resistant performance. The tread is finer and does not have the large lugs that are common to typical hiking boots. Some users find they do not perform as well when scrambling over rocks.
Comfort is a big selling point for these hiking boots. Reviewers love these for long backpacking trips where they are on their feet all day. They do run a bit large and are good for accommodating wide feet.
The full grain leather and quality build provides excellent durability. The waterproofing on these boots is very effective and keeps feet dry through most conditions.
For under 125 dollars these are a great value. They are not the most technical hiking boots available but are very comfortable and support for long wear on easy to moderate terrain.
Advanced Torque Stability footbed
Full grain leather
Comfortable for all day wear
Not the best traction
Our Criteria for the 10 Best Hiking Boots
Hiking boots range widely to accommodate a variety of terrains, conditions and personal preferences. We dissected each boot based on the following criteria to help you better understand your options.
The varying terrain encountered while hiking can fatigue or even injure unprotected feet. Support is built into the footbed to keep the foot locked in place and to provide cushioning from rocks and impact with the ground. More technical boots will feature a hard shank between the midsole and outsole to prevent the heel from dropping during ascents, therefore decreasing calf fatigue. Additionally, hiking boots range in their lacing system and ankle height. Higher ankles can help prevent ankles from rolling on uneven ground. Ultimately, the amount of support you will need comes down to the type of hiking you do and personal preference.
Increased support and better traction are the key reasons why hiking boots are recommended over your regular running shoes. The tread on the outsole of each boot has a pattern to increase grip on a variety of surfaces. Some boots also feature larger lugs to help you dig into softer ground and mud. The rubber composition also plays a role in the ability of your boot to stay put. Having boots with good traction makes a big difference when hiking and can help you step with confidence and maintain a more consistent stride.
Hiking is great exercise but can place a lot of strain on your feet, legs, and back. Finding boots that provide the right support for your foot shape can make a huge difference not only in the comfort of your feet but the comfort of your entire body as you hike. The right hiking boot will give you a good balance between support and flexibility to allow your foot to move appropriately for the given terrain. Having flexible boots that can be worn out of the box is a wonderful thing. However, for more technical hiking boots that require a little more break-in will provide more customized support and may be worth a little more work upfront.
Good hiking boots need to be built to take a beating. Clocking miles and miles on your feet on rugged terrain will wear down even the highest quality boots over time. Strong materials, extra supports, and even waterproofing will extend the longevity of your boots. We looked for options that provide reasonable durability and have features built-in for the long-term so you get your money’s worth out of your investment.
Other Things to Consider About Hiking Boots
Hiking Boot Type
In general, hiking boots can be divided into three categories: hiking footwear, day hiking boots, and backpacking boots.
Hiking shoes are going to be the lightest option for footwear and have the most flexibility through the midsole. They are typically low-cut and provide most of their support through well-crafted footbeds to keep feet feeling nimble but grounded. More advanced hikers or ultralight backpackers may even consider trail runners as an even lighter and more flexible option.
Day Hiking Boots are mid to high cut to prevent ankles from rolling on day hikes or even short backpacking trips with lighter loads. They are fairly flexible and typically require very little break-in time.
Backpacking boots are more rigid than the other two types and are built to provide significant support when bearing a heavier load. These boots are typically stiffer and heavier requiring a bit more time to break in.
The conditions you will be hiking in should be weighted heavily when choosing new hiking boots. Most hiking boots are waterproof and will keep feet dry when hiking in the rain or splashing through puddles. Having dry feet is great for preventing blisters and reducing chafing but waterproofing typically requires a waterproof liner built into the boot which will inevitably decrease breathability. If you will be hiking in hot weather you may want to opt for boots with mesh paneling and lighter leather to help keep feet cooler.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if they fit?
A: Hiking boots should fit snugly but never feel like they are tight or squeezing and you should have enough room to wiggle your toes. Wearing thick socks or just having your feet swell at the end of the hike can make a significant difference in fit and may lead to blisters. Be sure to try on your boots at the end of the day when feet are most swollen and wear your standard hiking socks.
When you first buy a pair of hiking shoes, they may have a surprisingly tight fit. This is fairly common, especially with shoes that are made with leather, and they may need to be worked in or stretched over a small period of time to mold to your feet and have a better fit. If you don’t want to put in the miles to get your shoes to the fit you want, you can even get boot stretchers. Above all, you know your body best and if the fit doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. It’s better to have to find a more appropriate fit than to risk a sprained ankle or damaged skin and nerves from a pair of boots that don’t fit.
Q: How should I care for my hiking boots?
A: Dirt buildup can threaten the long-term integrity of your boots. Take care of your investment by cleaning boots regularly. REI recommends first removing your laces and insoles, and then scrubbing with a toothbrush and specialized boot cleaner or dishwashing solution and rinsing thoroughly. To treat the waterproofing, try to avoid grease or waxes because they can affect the breathable layers of your shoes and cause “gumboot”. Instead, use an impregnating spray and follow it up with a leather care-cream. Make sure they’re given time to dry completely after being treated and avoid excess heat from appliances like radiators and ovens because it can cause the leather to shrink or become brittle.
Always check the manufacturer’s care guide and suggestions for treatment before trying to treat your shoes on your own. Different materials and designs may need different treatments and care, and most companies will have basic instructions available.
Q. My boots come with a decent insole, do I really need to buy inserts?
A. Yes and no. Short-term your insoles may be comfortable and hold up well, but long-term inserts will help restore the support and comfort that will break down over time in your original insoles. There are plenty of different insoles that will provide varying support levels, padding, and unique features that are available at affordable prices. You’ll want to be able to try them on with your boots so you can find an insole that fits the dimensions as well as your needs and comfortability.
Q. How long should my hiking boots last?
A. You should measure the life of your hiking boots in miles, not time. You may expect your boots to last a few years, but if you hike regularly and cover a lot of ground the wear will show. A quality pair of hiking boots should be able to carry you at least 500 to 600 miles, and up to even 1,000 miles depending on how well they are cared for and what kind of terrain you’re tackling.