The Best Hiking Shoes: A Complete Guide

Are you looking for the best hiking shoes available in the market? This article will give you all the information you need to help you zero down on the best hiking shoes and best hiking boots. You will also find details on everything that you need to consider when buying hiking shoes.

The amount of fun you have on your hiking expedition is directly proportionate to how comfortable you are in your hiking shoes. Whether you are going hiking for a just a few hours, a full day or whether you are backpacking for a couple of weeks, wearing hiking shoes that hurt your feet or cause you to slip on certain surfaces can damage your overall hiking experience.

That is exactly why investing in the best outdoor boots that meet your hiking requirements is non-negotiable. 

No time right now to read this comprehensive review of the best hiking shoes?  Pin It and save it for later:

The Best Hiking Shoes_ Complete Buyers Guide
Guide to The Best Hiking Shoes_ Exactly What to Look For

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My Top Pick for Best Hiking Shoes

Based on my review, the best rated hiking boots are Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots.  You can read the full review below.

Alternatively, you can check them out here.

How are hiking shoes different from other types of shoes?

Most shoes are designed to meet a specific purpose. 

Therefore, running shoes or other types of sports shoes are mostly light-weight. They come with softer soles that allow you to move fast. Additionally, they do not work on all surfaces and terrains. They can damage easily when worn on rocky and rough surfaces or when soaked in water. 

On the other hand, the best walking shoes or hiking shoes are designed to provide optimal protection to your feet. They may not be as lightweight as other types of shoes but they are more durable and designed to survive rough terrains. 

Hiking shoes or hiking boots can grip all types of surfaces and therefore protect you from slipping or losing your balance. The best backpacking shoes also come with a waterproof membrane to take on wet climates easily. 

To sum it up, unlike other shoes, the best sneakers for hiking are specifically designed to protect your feet and prevent injuries while helping you walk on various types of terrains, surfaces and slopes.

Top Hiking Shoes Comparison Guide

Before I dive into what you need to consider when choosing the best walking boots, here is a quick overview of some of the best hiking boots in the world that I have reviewed in this article. You can click on the column headings to compare the hiking shoes based on any criteria you want. 

If you are reading this on a mobile device, you might need to swipe to scroll across.

(Out of 5)
Merrell Women's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe


Suede leather/meshNo4CHECK NOW
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Shoes


Goretex/ rubber soleYes5CHECK NOW
Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes


Goretex/ rubber soleYes5CHECK NOW
KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoes


Leather/MeshNo4.5CHECK NOW
La Sportiva Women's High II Nucleo High GTX Hiking Boots


Nubuck leather with polyester meshYes4.5CHECK NOW
Timberland Men's White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle Boot


Waterproof leatherYes4CHECK NOW
Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX Hiking Shoes


Synthetic leather/nylon meshYes4.5CHECK NOW
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail-Running Shoes


KEEN Explore Waterproof Hiking Shoes


Performance MeshYes4.5CHECK NOW
Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots


Goretex/ rubber soleYes4.5CHECK NOW
Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots


Goretex/ rubber soleYes5CHECK NOW
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot


Waterproof Nubuck LeatherYes4.5CHECK NOW
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes


Suede leather/meshYes4.5CHECK NOW

Best Hiking Shoes and Best Hiking Boots in Category

I have detailed reviews of the major categories for hiking shoes and hiking boots below. However, if reading about all the options below is overwhelming, here are my top picks to help you determine which hiking shoes to buy:

Best Hiking Shoes for Women 

Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe 

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb 12 oz
  • Waterproof: No
  • Fabric: Suede leather/mesh

Moab stands for the ‘Mother of All Boots’ and quite rightly so they are one of the most popular hiking shoes in the market. 

The primary reason for them being the mass favourite is that they provide all-round protection at a super affordable price.

The Merrell’s Moab Vent is made using suede leather and mesh uppers that make them very breathable. The closed-cell foam tongue further strengthens the breathability factor by keeping moisture as well as debris away. 

The EVA midsoles ensure that the wearer enjoys good stability. The high-performance Vibram TC5+ 5 mm deep rubber sole ensures that the shoe sticks on rocky and rough surfaces. Additionally, the arch comfort that these shoes provide is also impressive. 

One of the primary reasons why women opt for the best women’s backpacking boots is for the ankle support that comes with it. Surprisingly, despite the Moab being a hiking shoe variant, the higher ankle opening does a remarkable job at furnishing adequate ankle support. 

That said, the Merrell’s Moab Vent does indeed have a few minor shortcomings. The softness of the rubber does weaken the durability of the shoe when compared to some of the best women’s hiking shoes. Similarly, the Merrell’s Moab Vent is not waterproof and therefore won’t be suitable for wet hikes. 


  • Made using suede leather, breathable mesh uppers
  • Provides stability and comfort
  • Provides sufficient ankle support
  • Affordable price
  • An ideal choice for non-technical hikes


  • May not be as durable as similar brands
  • Not waterproof

Read additional reviews for the Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

Women’s Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Boots

  • Weight (Pair): 14 oz
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Fabric: Goretex/ rubber sole

The Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX hiking boots are without a doubt the best hiking boots for women. Specifically contoured for women, this model features OrthoLite foam and EVA heel cups that ensure abundant heel support. 

The boots score high in the ankle support department as well thanks to their mid-cut opening. The polyurethane-coated leather uppers with Gore-tex makes it a great choice for hiking in wet conditions or trails involving a few water-crossings. 

The highlight of these boots is how lightweight they feel on your feet. The comfort and feel of these boots are comparable with lightweight low-cut hiking shoes. These boots require hardly any breaking in. The EVA midsoles make them adequately shock-absorbent while the Contagrip rubber although does not feel too stiff firmly grips challenging terrains. 


  • Breathable 
  • Water-resistant 
  • Feels light on the feet
  • Ideal for all types of trails
  • Provides great heel and ankle support
  • Durable


  • Lack of underfoot stability

Read additional reviews for the Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Boots

KEEN Voyageur Hiking Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb 10.6 oz
  • Waterproof: No 
  • Upper Fabric: Leather/Mesh

These hiking shoes feature a water-resistant leather and mesh uppers that are breathable and keep your feet feeling cool and comfortable. The 4 mm multi-directional lugs ensure steady traction. The ESS shanks further boost stability even when worn on uneven terrain. 

The metatomical dual-density footbed support mechanism ensures perfect arch support. Plus, the wide-fit and the patented toe-protection technology is what makes these shoes score better than some of the best walking boots for women.

However, on the flip-side, women with narrow feet may have a hard time logging miles in these. Similarly, even though the uppers are made using water-resistant leather, they will not protect your feet when used in wet conditions. 


  • Leather and mesh breathable uppers
  • Lightweight 
  • Offers top-notch toe protection and overall foot support
  • Durable
  • Affordable price


  • Not waterproof
  • Not suitable for women with narrow feet

Read additional reviews for the KEEN Voyageur Hiking Shoes

Best Hiking Shoes for Men

La Sportiva Women’s Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

  • Weight (Pair): 2 lbs 1.6 oz
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Nubuck leather

La Sportiva Nucleo wins the title of being the best hiking boots for men. These hiking boots are a reflection of what modern-age technology can do if applied correctly. The hiking boots use nubuck leather for its uppers and powers those with the use of nano-cell technology for optimal breathability. 

The Gore-tex surround waterproof membranes make these boots a solid performer even in wet conditions. The waterproof mechanism of these boots aces by blocking water while also allowing foot moisture to comfortably escape.

The boots also employ the Vibram Nano rubber outsoles powered with an impact brake system does a good job at gripping uneven surfaces. The nested EVA midsoles with an over-the-ankle opening work well at delivering overall stability. These boots do not cause foot fatigue even when worn for longer durations. 

However, La Sportiva Boots usually run narrow and therefore those with wide-feet should look at some of the other options listed in this article. 


  • Nubuck leather with Goretex Surround membrane provides great breathability
  • Waterproof
  • Feel light on the feet and provide all-round comfort
  • Provide a firm grip across terrains and consistent stability
  • Durable 
  • Absolute value-for-money


  • Not suitable for narrow feet

Read additional reviews for the La Sportiva Women’s Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Men’s Hiking Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 12.2 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Fabric: Full-grain leather/polyurethane coating

Salomon has been consistently producing some of the best hiking shoes in the market and the X Ultra 3 variant is a great example of this fact. 

While there are many hiking shoes in the market that can be used on varied terrains, there are very few ones that can withstand rough and challenging on-trail and off-trail conditions. The X Ultra 3 GTX belongs to those select few shoes that even hard-core hikers and backpackers can easily rely on.

To begin with, the uppers of these shoes are made using full-grain leather that can last for years. To deliver versatility and toughness for all conditions, the shoes use an advanced chassis system that renders a sturdy feel. The powerful Contagrip rubber with deep lugs effortlessly grips wet surfaces or loose dirt and gravel.

From a comfort point of view, the shoes allow the heels to rest well on OrthoLite footbeds backed with injected-EVA midsoles. The Gore-Tex membranes make these waterproof shoes breathable by preventing discomfort on account of moisture-trapping.

In my opinion, if you are looking to replace your basic shoes with some serious hiking footwear, opting for these would be a great investment. 


  • Versatile hiking shoes with all-round protection
  • Made out of durable material
  • Also suitable for advanced hiking
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Value for money


  • Inadequate ankle support when compared with hiking boots
  • Not suitable for narrow feet

Read additional reviews for the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes

Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle Boot

  • Weight (Pair): 2 lb 4 oz
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Waterproof leather

These classic ankle boots from Timberland are popularly considered by many to be one of the best walking boots for men. However, let me clarify at the very outset that they are not made for rough hiking. 

That said, they pack many remarkable features for the price range at which they come. That is also why they are one of the most popular hiking shoes available online.

These shoes made from waterproof leather together with the padded tongue excel at keeping your feet dry. The EVA footbed and an EVA midsole offer outstanding comfort and cushioning making your feet feel completely secure on day hikes. The rubber outsole strengthened with multidirectional lugs provides consistent traction even on varying terrains. 

Despite being one of the few all-leather hiking boots available in the market, they provide a surprisingly good amount of breathability when worn and feel light on the feet. 


  • Made using waterproof-leather and anti-rust lacing technology
  • Allow optimal air-circulation and keep feet dry
  • Feels lightweight
  • Provides good heel cushioning
  • Can be used on varied terrains


  • Not suitable for technical hikes or backpacking
  • Provides minimal ankle support

Read additional reviews for the Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle Boot

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes

Before I list down what I consider to be the best lightweight hiking shoes, let me clarify that the weight of these shoes is taken based on a higher-end size for the men’s boots. Therefore, do not compare the weight listed down here with the weight of the hiking shoes for women listed above. 

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX Hiking Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb 10. oz
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Synthetic leather/nylon mesh

These shoes by Adidas are the best light hiking shoes available in the market. You can also use them for trail running because of their aggressive rubber outsoles. You can put enough miles on them without them impacting ankle mobility. The truly makes them the best light hiking boots are the Traxion outsoles that they employ. These outsoles deliver impressive traction and are grippy on both groomed trails as well as loose terrains.

Despite the affordable price-tag, Adidas does not compromise on quality and features. The uppers feature a mesh and synthetic leather. The synthetic leather may at times cause heat-retention but the Gore-tex lining allows breathability. The Gore-tex membrane also keeps the feet dry when used in wet conditions. 

The EVA midsoles and the polyamide protection plates furnish an impressive underfoot cushioning. Despite the light weight, the shoes feel sturdy at all times. 

Besides the cut of this shoe proves to be a delight even for people with wide feet. 


  • Versatile hiking shoes
  • Extremely lightweight yet sturdy for serious hiking
  • Outstanding traction
  • Suitable for backpacking
  • Waterproof
  • Affordable price


  • Inadequate ankle support
  • Not suitable for narrow feet
  • Feet can get hot when used in harsh heat

Read additional reviews for the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX Hiking Shoes

Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail-Running Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 5 oz.
  • Waterproof: No 
  • Upper Fabric: Mesh

The Altra Lone Trail-Running Shoes have been a long-standing favourite among hikers. Instead of opting for the best lightweight hiking boots, these shoes are preferable for the quality of traction that they provide. 

The shoes use trademarked Max Trac outsoles with a unique lug pattern that grab most rough and rocky surfaces with ease. Its skeletal Stoneguard can easily take the blows of uneven surfaces and rocks. Additionally, the zero heel-to-toe drop means that they are one of the most stable shoes available in the market. 

Another area where they beat some of the best men’s lightweight hiking shoes is in their underfoot protection department. The 25 mm stack height cushions the toe and the forefoot evenly and unlike most hiking boots, the light weight allows ample foot flexibility.

However, the soft midsole foam can make the heels heavy after prolonged usage or when used with a heavy pack.


  • Lightweight
  • Zero heel-to-toe drop for great stability
  • Firm grip
  • Excellent underfoot protection
  • Moderately priced


  • Not suitable for prolonged use

Read additional reviews for the Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail-Running Shoes

KEEN Explore Waterproof Hiking Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 14 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Performance Mesh

These shoes are one of the most comfortable pair of hiking shoes sold online. They feel pleasantly light on the feet no matter how many miles you put wearing these or what speed you carry your feet at. 

The polyurethane footbeds provide comforting arch support. This is further strengthened by the notch in the back that prevents ankle discomfort. Its radial support midsole provides solid stability. Thanks to the Konnectfit technology, these shoes can securely lock your heels in for a snug fit. 

In terms of the uppers used on these shoes, the performance mesh makes these shoes super breathable. Moreover, the Keen water-resistance membrane outperforms the standard Gore-Tex in terms of breathability.

The outsoles feature a 4 mm multidirectional lugs that are inclined towards offering better traction over firmer grip. Therefore, these shoes may not ace at gripping extremely smooth surfaces but do a fairly good job on rocky and muddy surfaces.


  • Super comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof breathable mesh upper
  • Stable and provide outstanding traction
  • Moderately priced


  • Not suitable for technical hikers

Read additional reviews for the KEEN Explore Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes and Boots

You will find some of the best waterproof hiking boots and shoes available online listed below. 

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots

  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 15.6 oz. 
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Goretex

The Salomon Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Boots are one of the best lightweight waterproof hiking boots that you will find on the internet. What makes these boots a stand out is how they have been specifically designed to take on riverbeds and wet conditions. Not only do the Goretex waterproof membranes keep water from entering the shoes, but the lug pattern on the outsoles also does a great job at funnelling water away from your feet. 

Moreover, unlike some of the best waterproof boots for regular use, these hiking boots provide ample ankle support without making your feet feel heavy. The Contagrip rubber outsoles also help make slippery descents feel less risky.

In addition to these premium features, these waterproof hiking boots employ some of the best heel stabilising elements in the form of EVA midsoles, Ortholite foam and contoured EVA heel cups. 

Their women-specific boot also impresses in terms of overall foot protection, comfort and waterproofness. It tops the list of the best waterproof hiking boots for women.


  • Waterproof yet breathable
  • Lug pattern designed to keep water away from feet
  • Excellent grip and overall protection
  • Adequate ankle support and underfoot cushioning
  • Lightweight
  • Moderately priced


  • Prone to wear and tear

Read additional reviews for the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots

KEEN Targhee II Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

  • Weight (Pair): 2 lbs. 2.8 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Upper Fabric: Oiled nubuck leather

I am a fan of the Keen waterproof membrane technology. As stated earlier, the Keen membrane allows vapour to quickly escape in wet and humid conditions. This quick-dry technology coupled with the fresh-feeling Cleansport natural odor control is one of the biggest reasons why these shoes rank high among the best waterproof walking boots. 

The boots in itself are great for newbies looking to transition to the best men’s waterproof hiking boots. For trail hiking, these shoes are capable of gripping all types of surfaces. The shoes rely on an injected TPU heel capture system to enhance rear stability. The sturdiness of these shoes is drawn from the external support shank. However, the bulkier feel of these shoes does can cause foot fatigue if used on technical hikes. 


  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Comes with Cleansport natural odor control
  • Provides impressive stability and underfoot cushioning
  • The rubber on outsoles capable of gripping all surfaces
  • Affordable price


  • Can feel a bit bulky and can cause foot-fatigue

Read additional reviews for the KEEN Targhee II Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

  • Weight (Pair): 2 lbs. 1oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes 
  • Fabric: Suede leather/mesh

The regular Merrell’s Moab Vent Hiking Shoes listed above are not waterproof. Of course, given the fact that the Moab 2 are hiking shoes and not boots, the low cut will anyway allow water to enter the shoes when completely drenched. 

However, barring such situations, this waterproof variant of Moab does a terrific job in providing the comfort and grip of the standard Moab 2 Vent hiking shoes while also ensuring water-resistance.

Most waterproof hiking shoes retain humidity and moisture that causes feet to sweat in non-rainy conditions. However, the Moab strikes a good balance on that front by designing its waterproof variant in such a way that it favours an all-weather dryness of feet over water-blocking. 

That is exactly where I find these shoes to be a perfect choice for easy to moderate trekkers who can enjoy an adequate amount of waterproofness without having to shell out a lot of extra cash for it. 


  • Breathable waterproof membrane 
  • A great choice for moderate level hikes
  • Does not compromise on comfort, stability and grip
  • Affordable price


  • Not suitable for hiking in deep water

Read additional reviews for the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Hiking Shoes and Boots

Best hiking shoes

How to choose the best hiking shoes?

The best hiking shoes and boots will differ depending on your needs and your feet.  Consider the common questions below before making your final decision.

What type of hiking would you be engaging in? 

This is the most important question that must be considered when buying hiking boots. A day-hike or a weekend hike is usually less challenging than longer backpacking hikes. Similarly, scope out the type of surface on which you would be hiking. Will it involve steep climbs? What type of climatic conditions would you be hiking in?

If your hike is a beginner-level hike you can easily settle for a basic variant from the best trail hiking shoes available online. Conversely, you should only buy a good quality pair from the best hiking shoes brand if you are working your way up a difficult, long hike. 

How often do you plan on using it?

If you are a regular hiker, you need to choose a pair of highly durable footwear from the best hiking boot brands. Choosing a pair of good quality hiking footwear will also ensure that you do not need to spend time and again on their maintenance.

However, if you do not hike much, the best hiking sneakers for you would be those that are lightweight while offering a decent level of support while hiking. Lightweight hiking shoes can easily double up as your go-to shoes for other forms of physical activity as well. 

What is your foot type? 

Comfort will not be a problem for you if you buy shoes that fit well. To do that, you must study your foot type.

Therefore, the best trekking shoes for you will be the ones that are not too wide or too narrow for your foot. Usually, men have wider feet and higher ankles while women have narrower feet and lower ankles. However, if you are a man with narrow feet, there is no harm in checking out women’s footwear.  

Likewise, check if you have flat feet. In such a case, you must buy hiking shoes that provide better arch support. 

What’s the difference between hiking boots and hiking shoes?

You will find many people use the two words interchangeably. However, the two are quite different. I have included reviews for both shoes and boots below.  But let’s take a quick look at the difference.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are tall hiking footwear that rise a bit above your ankle. The biggest advantage that they enjoy over any other type of hiking footwear is that they provide incredible ankle support. That being said, they tend to be bulkier than regular hiking shoes. 

In fact, they are commonly used by serious hikers who head out on longer backpacking trips across diverse terrain. They allow for steady traction and are compatible with most weather conditions. 

However, the biggest downside of hiking boots is that they are harder to pack on account of their size and weight. Plus, breaking into hiking boots also takes a few days and therefore most newbie hikers find wearing walking in hiking boot pretty challenging.

Thankfully, modern-day technology is moving fast towards overcoming these difficulties and today you will find many hiking boots that are lightweight and do not need much time to break into. 

The best hiking boots are Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots Click here to see the latest price

Hiking Shoes

Unlike hiking boots, hiking shoes are ankle-length hiking footwear. They are comparatively light in weight and nimble. They are also far more breathable than boots and that is also why they tend to dry quickly. Additionally, packing a pair of hiking shoes in a rucksack is not as difficult as packing hiking boots is. 

On the downside though, hiking shoes do not offer the kind of ankle support that hiking boots do. That is also why they are not popular among serious hikers. However, casual, recreational or newbie hikers should opt for hiking shoes over hiking boots. This is because they do not need much of a breaking-in time and are unlikely to leave your feet feeling sore. 

The best hiking shoes are Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes. Click here to see the latest price

Which are the Best Hiking Shoes for You?

As always, I have only included the most highly rated products here.  If you’re searching for the best hiking shoes or boots, then you’re in the right place as I only list those awarded scores of between 4 and 5 stars (at the time of writing).  You can click on each link to read the latest reviews for each option.

The best hiking shoes or boots will clearly vary according to preferences and price limit, but I aim for this guide to give you a helping hand, saving you time and money in making the right choice of hiking shoes and boots.  Whatever you choose, happy hiking!

Do you have any other hiking shoes or boots you highly recommend? Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know.

If you found this review helpful but are not quite ready to buy yet, Pin It so you can find it easily!

Guide to The Best Hiking Shoes_ Exactly What to Look For
The Best Hiking Shoes_ Complete Buyers Guide

Read more travel product reviews


About the Reviewer

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and all of the main national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

Read more…

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