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10 Best Hiking Boots Tested and Fully Reviewed

last updated Jun 26, 2019
A good pair of hiking boots is essential for anyone who regularly hits the trails. Although typically a little bulkier, some of the benefits of boots are 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 around the ankle provides excellent 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 suitable 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 the best hiking boots to help you find the right pair to suit your needs.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research

icon
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
93.2/100 our score
Support
98
Traction
96
Comfort
98
Durability
85
Value
89
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Why is it better?

Comfortable right out of the box

Short break in period

Good ankle stability

Great traction

Waterproof

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Test Winner: Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
10
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1600
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
12
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Gabby Gabbard:

This update brings two new hiking boots to the 10 Best hiking Boots list. The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX offers a more fit and trail shoe feel to the hiking boot world but doesn't lack support or comfort that you find in the best styles. The Merrell Moab Ventilator is like an all-terrain tire for your foot, air and all. They are leather but they breathe and support with the best of them. Scroll through the lineup and hit up the Evaluation Criteria we have compiled just or you, so you can understand what makes a 10 best hiking boot. We do hours of research to make sure we are truly offering you the highest in standard when it comes to your expectation of greatness.

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Support Traction Comfort Durability Value Stability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.2
Support
98 %
Traction
96 %
Comfort
98 %
Durability
85 %
Value
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Support
95 %
Traction
94 %
Comfort
93 %
Durability
84 %
Value
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$178.13
Backcountry Link
$239.95
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#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Support
95 %
Traction
80 %
Comfort
98 %
Durability
82 %
Value
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$94.91
Backcountry Link
$99.95
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Gear Coop
$99.95
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Holabird Sports Link
$99.95
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Road Runner Sports Link
$99.95
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Cabelas
$99.99
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#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Support
84 %
Traction
89 %
Comfort
87 %
Durability
93 %
Value
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$164.95
Backcountry Link
$164.95
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#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.2
Stability
85 %
Traction
84 %
Comfort
90 %
Durability
82 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$160.00
Backcountry Link
$164.99
See Deal
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Support
84 %
Traction
82 %
Comfort
89 %
Durability
85 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Support
90 %
Traction
85 %
Comfort
90 %
Durability
80 %
Value
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Backcountry Link
$154.96
See Deal
Amazon Link
$239.00
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Support
80 %
Traction
90 %
Comfort
85 %
Durability
75 %
Value
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$79.95
Backcountry Link
$79.99
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Cabelas
$79.99
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#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
Support
75 %
Traction
80 %
Comfort
90 %
Durability
75 %
Value
75 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$134.95
Backcountry Link
$139.95
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Cabelas
$139.99
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KEEN Footwear
$140.00
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#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.6
Support
70 %
Traction
68 %
Comfort
90 %
Durability
80 %
Value
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.09.19)
Amazon Link
$77.10
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Top 10 Picks

1. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.2
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Amazon Link
Support
98
Traction
96
Comfort
98
Durability
85
Value
89
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Pros:

Comfortable right out of the box

Short break in period

Good ankle stability

Great traction

Waterproof

Cons:

Not the most durable

Not great for wide feet

Thinner midsole

These high-cut backpacking boots are an excellent option for those seeking great traction and comfort. Reviewers describe the comfort and flexibility of a running shoe with the high profile and support of a hiking boot. The lacing system provides customizable support high on the ankle without feeling too stiff or inflexible. Users note they do an excellent job keeping water out and require very little time to break in.

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Support/Stability:

The high cut of these boots rises 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 excellent lateral stability without being inflexible.

Traction:

Users find the Contragrip outsole and solid lugs perform well in wet and dry conditions.

Comfort:

Users are impressed by the immediate support and short break-in period for these hiking boots. The combination of Nubuck leather and nylon provides excellent flexibility and the 2 lbs, and 13 ounces do not make feet feel heavy. Some reviewers think the insole is too thin and prefer to switch them out for their insoles. Users find the high ankles and waterproofing do 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 more full feet do not find them as comfortable.

Durability:

Unfortunately, this is where these light to mid-weight boots fall short. The shoes do hold up well for some time but some users note premature separation of the sole or fraying at the seams.

Value:

These boots are on the more expensive side, and some users find themselves disappointed by their durability considering the cost.

"Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

2. Lowa Renegade GTX 10

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Lowa Renegade GTX 10
Amazon Link
Support
95
Traction
94
Comfort
93
Durability
84
Value
92
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Pros:

Comfortable

Little to no break-in needed

Good flexibility

Waterproof

Ankle support

Thicker midsole

Cons:

Not the most durable

Does not lock foot in quite as well

Flexibility meets structure in these light to mid-weight hiking boots. The midsole has a thicker build and more grounded feel that still maintains some flexibility and movement through the nubuck leather upper. The customizable lace system and short break-in period for these boots make them a great option for comfort for a variety of foot types and sizes.

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Support/Stability:

Users love the Lowa Renegade for its balance between lightweight flexibility and ruggedness. It has significantly more rigidity through the underfoot than light hiking shoes but does not feel too stiff or inflexible. Nubuck leather uppers provide good structure while remaining flexible and the mid-ankle cut, rising about 5 inches from the arch, gives reliable ankle support. The lacing system does not lock in the heel quite as well as the Salomon Quest, but it does provide a unique, customizable feel.

Traction:

Vibram outsoles mix rubber with hard lugs to provide reliable grip in a variety of conditions.

Comfort:

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.

Durability:

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 noted 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 pair.

"Lowa Renegade GTX 10" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

3. Merrell Moab 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Merrell Moab 2
Amazon Link
Support
95
Traction
80
Comfort
98
Durability
82
Value
85
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Pros:

Lightweight

Flexible support

Comfortable for all-day wear

No break-in period

Vibram outsole

Waterproof

Cons:

Rubber outsoles do not grip all surfaces as well as some others

Thinner padding through the footbed

The Merrell Moab is a fan favorite for lightweight comfort and flexibility on the trail. These low-cut hiking shoes provide a bit more support around the ankle and through the underfoot than a hiking shoe but maintain the flexibility and freedom of a running shoe. Fans of lightweight support love these shoes and are happy wearing them all day long.

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Support/Stability:

This flexible hiking shoe has more support than a trail runner but is much more manageable 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.

Traction:

The rubber Vibram outsoles provide excellent traction but are not the best on dry and dusty descents.

Comfort:

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. A flexible build in the upper and footbed is so comfortable that many users prefer these as regular walking shoes. The cushioning is a bit thinner through the footbed so some rocks can be felt along the bottom of the foot.

Durability:

The Moab line is an excellent 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.

Value:

Consistently under 150 dollars, this is a decent option for casual hikers.

"Merrell Moab 2" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

4. Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Amazon Link
Support
84
Traction
89
Comfort
87
Durability
93
Value
87
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Pros:

Comfort of a trail runner with the support of a hiking boot

Waterproof Gore-Tex liner

Added ankle support

Super light

Extra Flexible

Cons:

Thin support underfoot

Salomon XUltra 3 Mid GTX has all the comfort of a great trail shoe while offering all the added support and height of a Great hiking boot. IT is light, versatile and keeps your feet feeling great no matter the terrain. Salomon doesn't just know shoes, they know terrain and they put it all in this hiking boot.

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Stability/Traction

Adding the Contragrip rubber sole to the lug pattern gave the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX that extra grip you want when your hiking the trails. Add some Goretex to the rest of the shoe and you have a well-rounded hiking boot fit for any type of hiking condition.

Salomon made these with less stack height in the collar but added padding for the extra ankle support most higher designs offer, for a more stable ride. This lower profile also allows for them to be worn daily without screaming “I LIKE MUD”.

Comfort

As we mentioned in the intro, these are made with a trail shoe design. They offer support in all the right areas and padding to make sure you do not get the evil ankle roll. This makes them more flexible than most in their class.

However, this also means the under is a bit thinner compared to others. Salomon works out the difference by adding a strong chassis design that holds the foot in place while giving great toe protection against roots and sharp objects.

Durability

Although they cut out some weight with thinner midsoles, making it less durable than some on the list, this doesn't affect the rubber outer and high-grade toe protection that creates the durability this shoe does offer, which helped it get a spot on out 10 Best Hiking Boots lineup. The Goretex running on the upper also adds a ton of durability, while making the shoe waterproof as well.

Value

One of Salomon’s best sellers, the X Ultra 3 GTX is a great value for those that are wanting to get some miles in without the added load: fast-paced hikers, backpackers, etc. These will keep you dry, comfy and stable and won’t make you wonder where you’re money went.

5. Under Armour Verge 2.0 Mid GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.2
Under Armour Verge 2.0 Mid GTX
Amazon Link
Stability
85
Traction
84
Comfort
90
Durability
82
Value
90
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Amazon Link
$160.00
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$164.99
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Pros:

Can be more affordable depending on size and color

Lightweight

100% waterproof Gore-Tex finish

Breathable, quick-dry material

EVA molded midsole

Welded supports and ESS rock plates

Cons:

May fit small

Some reported durability issues

This pair of hiking boots from Under Armour sits comfortably at the intersection of hiking boots and shoes, providing the protection and stability of hiking boots and the breathable comfort of less bulky shoes. They’re an excellent alternative for hikers who need the traditional features of a boot but prefer the feel of a lightweight shoe, and they might be more affordable than some of the other boot options on this list.

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Support/Stability:

The Verge 2.0 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 excellent support and help with balance while you’re hiking.

Traction:

The Michelin rubber outsoles are molded to the Wild Gripper lug pattern, so they provide decent traction without being obtrusive.

Comfort:

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 and offers protection from mild weather.

Durability:

Sturdy 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.

Value:

Although different size options and colors may affect the price range of these hiking boots, they still dip 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 justified by all of the great features and versatility of this shoe.

"Under Armour Verge 2.0 Mid GTX" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

6. Merell Moab Ventilator Mid

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Merell Moab Ventilator Mid
Amazon Link
Support
84
Traction
82
Comfort
89
Durability
85
Value
90
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Pros:

Replaceable insoles

Breathe well

Good price

Lock Laces

Cons:

Not for climbing

Are not Waterproof

Slicker when wet

Merell made the Moab Ventilator Mid for those than hike on a budget. These are light, affordable and offer all the other great specs the best hiking boot should have for a fraction of the cost. They keep you supported and are loaded with for even the heartiest trails. If you're just looking to go for a day trip or get some miles in on the trail, these are a great option.

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Stability/Traction

The Moab Ventilator has the Vibram sticky rubber outer soles that help keep the slippage under control. They have an orthopedic insole to add to it for extra support that keeps you from feeling the rough terrain beneath your feet, helping you stay upright and trecking through the terrain.

Merell didn't add any lugs to this design so that means it is a bit more versatile and stable for more moderate terrain. The stability and traction the Moab Ventilator offers is ideal for those who are looking for a lighter and easier going option or for beginners who want to get a solid feel for the hiking life.

Comfort

That Orthopedic footbed we mentioned has an anatomical design that cushions and cradles the foot; it’s as if you have a pillow in your hiking boot. It is a leather and textile blend that allows for extra airflow as well.

Airflow combined with the M-Select dry wicking technology leaves your feet dry and fresh. Merell also added the M-Select Fresh to prevent odor from making an unpleasant appearance post-hike.

Merell Moab Ventilators have a 4” height that adds support to the ankle. This helps you stay aligned with your stride no matter how rocky a trail can get. The lock-in lacing system keeps the boot in place and all your pressure is ut into the air cushion heel for a super shock absorbency that keeps you going longer without foot pain.

Durability

Water resistance and leather/textile blended material make these a pretty darn durable hiking boot. Keeping water out while allowing them to breathe offers longevity to the hiking boot. Because there are no lugs, wear is not an issue either. The Vibram rubber is known to last and the tread design aids in it lasting longer than normal as well.

Value

Merell Moab Ventilator is a steal. You're getting all the boot without spending all the monies. They are highly rated by consumers for comfort and support and offer pretty decent durability too. Although we would take these scrambling, they are highly effective for those day trippers and fast-paced hikers that want to push through terrain with ease.

7. Scarpa R-Evolution GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Scarpa R-Evolution GTX
Amazon Link
Support
90
Traction
85
Comfort
90
Durability
80
Value
80
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Amazon Link
$239.00
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Pros:

Quality build

Abrasion-resistant suede uppers

Vibram outsole

Substantial midfoot support

Precision footprint

Sock-fit system to prevent bunching

Good ankle support

Cons:

Very expensive

Some break-in required

Dye bleeds onto and stains socks

This backpacking boot provides more substance through the midfoot and sides without sacrificing much in the way of weight. Although it is not highly specialized, it is versatile and performs well in a variety of moderately technical situations. This boot works well for backpacking and summer hiking. The lightweight suede-like leather takes a bit longer to break in but maintains a breathable, yet waterproof feel that users love.

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Stability/Support:

These boots have a sturdy feel from the first second you put them on. The midsole is substantial and feels solid underfoot, and the boot hits high on the ankle to provide support. It is a solid boot for backpacking with heavy loads but is not clunky and performs more like a light alpine boot.

Traction:

Vibram outsoles provide excellent traction on wet and dry trails.

Comfort:

The R-evolution features a sock-fit design with a memory foam-padded tongue to cradle the foot and prevent the fabric from bunching. The solid 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.

Durability:

The suede uppers and stitching on these boots make 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.

Value:

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, however, and Scarpa is a brand that has been around for a long time and has an excellent reputation in the outdoor gear community.

"Scarpa R-Evolution GTX" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

8. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus
Amazon Link
Support
80
Traction
90
Comfort
85
Durability
75
Value
85
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Pros:

Quality full-grain leather uppers

Waterproof

Good traction

Inexpensive

Cons:

Not very breathable

Little arch support

Very thin material

Columbia makes a good pair of affordable and reliable standard hiking boots. They provide strong support that rises around the ankle. They require little break-in time, and the combination of waterproof leather and breathable mesh make these boots a good option for use year-round.

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Stability/Support:

The Newton Ridge Plus has excellent support through the sides and ankle, but the underfoot does not cradle the foot quite as well as some other designs. For day hiking boots will provide excellent stability to prevent ankles from rolling.

Traction:

Omnigrip lugged outsole provides excellent grip. Users find they work great on rocky surfaces but do not perform as well as Vibram outsoles on loose gravel or wet conditions.

Comfort:

Despite the full grain leather upper, these boots are easy to break in and are reasonably comfortable straight out of the box. Those with higher arches do prefer their inserts for additional arch support. Many users also find heavy leather and waterproofing to be a bit to warm for hot conditions.

Durability:

These boots are very durable especially considering the budget price tag.

Value:

At less than 100 dollars these shoes are a bargain. They provide excellent ankle support and traction for hikes where running shoes just won’t cut it.

"Columbia Newton Ridge Plus" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

9. Keen Targhee II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
Keen Targhee II
Amazon Link
Support
75
Traction
80
Comfort
90
Durability
75
Value
75
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Pros:

Very comfortable

Ankle support

Waterproof

Breathable

Cons:

Lacking support through the midfoot

Not ideal for more technical hikes

It is a reliable option for a standard trail hiking boot. The durable leather upper and tough rubber sole protects your feet in rugged terrain. The rigid build is supportive but not too inflexible and creates excellent ankle stability for day hikes. These hiking boots are comfortable right out of the box, but other options are lighter weight and more breathable.

Read more

Stability/Support:

The Keen Targhee offers more in the way of waterproofing and foot protection than support for hiking. The mid-cut height does provide reliable ankle support, but the underfoot structure is somewhat lacking.

Traction:

Keen rubber outsoles provide traction comparable to Vibrams. The traction is excellent on wet surfaces, but the lack of mid-foot support can lead to the unsure footing on more challenging descents.

Comfort:

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.

Durability:

These Keen boots are well built and highly durable. Some users note a few scratches to the Nubuck leather uppers but no substantial damage.

Value:

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.

"Keen Targhee II" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

10. Ariat Terrain H2O Copper

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.6
Ariat Terrain H2O Copper
Amazon Link
Support
70
Traction
68
Comfort
90
Durability
80
Value
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$77.10
Pros:

Sturdy support

Advanced Torque Stability footbed

Full grain leather

Waterproof

Comfortable for all-day wear

Cons:

Not the best traction

Heavy

Ariat specializes in riding boots, but users find they make reliable hiking and walking boot as well. These boots are not best suited for technical terrain but provide excellent support and waterproofing for walking long trails and spending all day on your feet.

Read more

Stability/Support:

The full-grain leather uppers give this boot a sturdy feel with the 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.

Traction:

The outsole is made from Ariat’s Duratread technology which employs a proprietary rubber compound for flexible and slip-resistant performance. The tread is more excellent 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:

Comfort is a big selling point for these hiking boots. Reviewers love these for extended backpacking trips where they are on their feet all day. They do run a bit significant and are useful for accommodating wide feet.

Durability:

The full grain leather and quality build provide excellent durability. The waterproofing on these boots is very useful and keeps feet dry through most conditions.

Value:

For under 125 dollars these are a great value. They are not the most technical hiking boots available but are very comfortable and supportive for extended wear on easy to moderate terrain.

"Ariat Terrain H2O Copper" is one of the best hiking boots on our list!

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Support

The varying terrain encountered while hiking can fatigue or even injure unprotected feet. With great hiking boots, 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 ankle cuffs can help prevent rolled and sprained ankles but come at the price of extra weight and less breathability. Ultimately, the amount of support you need comes down to the type of hiking you do and personal preference. If you mostly take casual hikes on relatively easy terrain, you may want to opt for lighter duty boots with a low ankle cuff. But if you regularly take long hikes over technical terrain, especially while carrying a heavy backpack, higher boots may be the way to go.

Traction

Increased support and better traction are the key reasons why hiking boots are recommended over your regular running shoes for, well, hiking. The tread on the outsole of each boot has a pattern to increase grip on a variety of surfaces. Some boots feature more massive 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 excellent traction makes a big difference while hiking and can help you step with confidence and maintain a more consistent stride, especially during inclement weather.

Comfort

Hiking is an excellent 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 while you hike. The right hiking boots 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 comfortably straight out of the box is a beautiful thing. However, more technical hiking boots that require a more extended break-in will period will give you more customized support and may be worth a little more work upfront.

Durability

Functional hiking boots are built to take a beating. Clocking miles and miles over rugged terrain will wear down even the highest quality boots over time. Active materials, extra supports, and even waterproofing will extend the longevity of your boots. We looked for options that provide excellent durability and have plenty of features built-in so you can get your money’s worth out of your investment.

Value

The adage, you get what you pay for, certainly applies to hike boots. Several of the pairs on our list cost over $200, but are packed with great features and quality construction. We also have several pairs that come in around $100 or less, and for that, you'll get a right boot, but it probably won't have the same level of support or super-durable construction you'd get with one of the higher end boots.

We suggest thinking about your context and buying based on that. Are you an avid and experienced hiker who heads out on a new adventure every weekend? If so it's probably worth it to invest in a more expensive, fully-featured pair of hiking boots. If you're only going on shorter hikes less often, it may make sense for you to save some money by going with a less expensive, but still good quality pair of hiking boots.

Other Factors to Consider

Application

The type of boots you buy should, of course, be determined by your intended activities and applications. In general, hiking boots can be divided into three categories: hiking shoes, day hiking boots, and backpacking boots.

-Hiking shoes are the lightest option 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 reasonably 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 more massive load, and to hold up longer in rugged terrain. They also typically have more aggressive tread hiking or day hiking options. These boots generally are stiffer and more substantial and require more time to break in.

Weather Resistance

The conditions you will be hiking in should be weighed when choosing new hiking boots. Most hiking boots are waterproof and will keep your feet dry when you're hiking in the rain and splashing through puddles. Having dry feet is great for preventing blisters and reducing chafing while keeping you comfortable, but a waterproof boot typically requires that a liner be built into the boot which will inevitably decrease breathability. If you are hiking in hot weather, you may want to opt for boots with mesh paneling and lighter leather to help keep your feet cooler.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: How will I know when I find a good fitting hiking boot?

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 your 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. It is fairly common, especially with shoes that are made from leather, and they may need to be broken in or stretched over a small period 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 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. Trust us; it's worth it to take the time to break in your hiking boots before taking them out on a big hike.

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 your 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 breaks 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 comfort.

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 shoes to last a few years, but if you hike regularly and cover a lot of ground, the wear will show more quickly. 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.

q: How do I waterproof my hiking boots?

a:

Great question! While many of the boots on our list are rated as waterproof, you may want to re-apply a waterproof coating every 6 months to a year or to waterproof a pair of hiking boots that isn't already waterproof.

There are a couple of ways to go about this, depending on the material the boot is made out of. For synthetic materials, you'll want to get a waterproofing spray, available at just about any sporting goods store. For leather, we recommend a leather waterproofer, but be careful not to use something that is wax or oil based. It can lead to what is known as "gumboot" where your boots become so saturated with wax/oil that they become heavy and unbreathable, so be sure to avoid this.

Sources

  1. REI, How to Clean Hiking Boots, Web Article
  2. REI, How To Choose Hiking Boots, Web Article
  3. Switchback Travel Staff, Best Hiking Boots, Web Article