Hiking is a great way to experience the best of nature. But if you’re going to tackle amazing trails then you’ll need quality hiking boots. There are countless products on the market and a variety of boot categories, so you are probably asking yourself, “what are the best hiking boots”? The answer to that depends on what type of hiking you prefer and during what season. Read on to find out what to look for when buying new hiking boots as well as what hiking boots are currently the best on the market.
Comparison Table of the Best Hiking Boots
Below is a list of the best boots for hiking. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
|Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX||Lightweight||1 lb. 15.6 oz.|
|Merrell Moab 2 Mid||Lightweight||2 lb. 4 oz.|
|Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX||Midweight||2 lbs. 13.8 oz.|
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||Midweight||2 lbs. 7 oz.|
|Keen Targhee III Mid||Lightweight||2 lbs. 2.8 oz.|
|Timberland White Ledge Mid||Lightweight||2 lbs. 4 oz.|
|Vasque St. Elias GTX||Midweight||2 lbs. 15 oz.|
|Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II||Lightweight||2 lbs. 0 oz.|
|Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry||Light/midweight||2 lbs. 8 oz.|
|Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX||Midweight||2 lbs. 6.4 oz.|
What to Look for in Good Hiking Boots
These are the major things you need to consider before purchasing a new pair of hiking boots.
Toughness and reliability are the name of the game when it comes to heavyweight boots. The first thing to point out is that if you’re going to get heavyweight boots then you need to be sure to break them in before you tackle the trail. Most models have a full-leather design and are built for challenging and rocky trails. They also make an ideal choice for hikers traveling with baby carriers or super heavy hiking backpacks. Most are great for hiking in the rain or snow, but not ideal in hotter temperatures.
Midweight boots are a happy medium for most hikers because they offer quality support but don’t weigh you down. The material quality, construction, and stiffness are generally better for midweight boots than for lightweight boots.
These boots are light and flexible, but they’re not as stiff or durable as their heavier counterparts. If your typical hikes are short backpacking trips or longer day hikes, then lightweight boots may be sufficient. Lightweight boots are usually made with nylon and mesh with a leather mix and come with less expensive waterproof liners.
2. Type of Midsole
Your midsole is important because it adds an extra layer of protection against sharp or hard objects you may step on while also acting as a shock absorber.
a. EVA Foam
This lightweight and cushy material is found mainly in hiking boots that are mid- or lightweight. EVA foam is quite soft, but it doesn’t offer the support some need in a hiking boot. As a soft foam, it also has a higher tendency to break down over time.
b. Polyurethane (PU)
PU is the more durable midsole and will protect your feet from taking a serious beating. If support is what you need while you tackle difficult hikes, PU is the way to go, even though it may cost you a bit more money. The good news is PU midsoles hold their shape longer than EVA foam midsoles.
Laces are easy to replace, but the lacing system can make or break the fit of the boot. Before purchasing a boot, make sure the lacing system doesn’t have a tendency to loosen. If it does, you’re likely to find yourself with blisters or hot spots, and you’ll end up stopping frequently in order to adjust your laces.
Breathability is great if you’re often hiking in warm, dry climates. While you may think you always want your boots to be breathable, reconsider if you’ll often be hiking in cold or wet weather. A waterproof boot will be less breathable, but it will keep your feet warmer.
5. Upper Material
The upper material will determine the breathability, durability, and water resistance of the boot. The most common upper materials are:
a. Full-Grain Leather
Full-grain leather is typically used for tough and water-resistant heavyweight boots. They won’t be breathable or light, but boots made with full-grain leather should last longer than the lighter competition. Keep in mind that the leather will require some care to maintain it.
b. Nubuck and Suede Leather
The construction is thinner, lighter, and not as durable as full-grain leather. However, it is more flexible, breathable, and scuff-resistant.
c. Synthetic Nylon and Mesh
These materials are usually used in beginner or mid-level boots and aren’t very durable compared to their counterparts. They’re great if you want to decrease weight or if you need boots that are really breathable. Also, keep in mind that synthetic nylon and mesh can absorb moisture quicker than a full-grain leather boot.
The more flexible the boot, the less supportive it will be. Flexible boots are fine for easy day hikes, but you’ll regret having a flexible boot on difficult terrain or if you’re traveling with a heavy backpack for a long period of time. Less flexible boots will offer additional support around your ankles as well as reduce fatiguing of your calves.
Many hiking boots are waterproof. Typically they’re waterproof because of a bootie in the outer fabric. Waterproof boots are almost always a good idea. If you’re hiking in the cold weather, winter months, or shoulder seasons, go with waterproof boots. If most of your hikes are taking place in dry, hot climates, you may want to consider forgetting about waterproofing and going with the best summer hiking boots because more than likely your boots will dry quickly and waterproofing will cause your feet to overheat.
Best Hiking Boots Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, here are the best boots for hiking on the market today.
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 15.6 oz.
The reason these are considered the best lightweight hiking boots is that the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX offer the comfort of running shoes while giving you the ability to tackle even the toughest terrain. You’ll be more than ready to tackle wet riverbeds and slippery slopes thanks to the high-traction Contagrip® rubber and the lug pattern that funnels water away from your feet. They do come with rubber caps and mud guards so your toes can stay protected from stubs on roots and rocks. The midsoles are made from an injection-molded EVA foam to help with heel support and foot cushioning. With support and durability along with comfort and cushion, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boots offer the best of both worlds when it comes to comfort and durability.
Merrell Moab 2 Mid
Weight: 2 lb. 4 oz.
There’s a reason Moab stands for “Mother-Of-All-Boots”. The leather makes them durable, but it’s the comfort level that really makes people love them. These boots offer contoured footbeds with heel support and zonal arch so you can experience the best of your hikes without being distracted by foot discomfort. The uppers are made of mesh and suede leather, and even have rubber caps to protect your toes. The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof boots offer air cushions which aid in increasing stability and absorbing shock. The pair weighs two pounds four ounces, and they’re quality enough to tackle rough hikes without weighing you down.
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
Weight: 2 lbs. 13.8 oz.
Even if you’re heading on a lengthy hike with a pack weighed down with your tent and camping gear, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX boots will make sure you arrive at your campsite with dry and comfy feet. The technology adds additional support and aids in reducing fatigue. The tongues have a contoured instep fit and lie smoothly to decrease lace pressure while keeping moisture and dirt out. Forefoot flexion is increased thanks to the new 4D Advanced Chassis design, and the footbeds are great at absorbing shock. These boots are even equipped with an antimicrobial treatment that decreases odor. When it comes to the best men’s hiking boots, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX boots are always among the top contenders.
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
With a pair weighing only two pounds seven ounces, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid boots are a solid waterproof option designed to get you through everything from a Grand Canyon day hike to a weekend trip to Big Sur. The GORE-TEX® liners are breathable and can keep your feet dry as you trek through shallow creeks or puddles. The nubuck leather uppers repel water and have nylon ankle bands to help with flexibility and comfort. Regardless of the terrain you’re hiking, the Vibram® Evo rubber outsoles offer impressive traction. A 2018 member of the Editors’ Choice 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame by Backpacker magazine, these are some of the best waterproof hiking boots on the market.
Keen Targhee III Mid
Weight: 2 lbs. 2.8 oz.
This upgraded model has secured its spot among the best boots for hiking. The Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof boots are tough and durable while also being comfortable. The EVA footbeds help to cushion your strides, and are also removable. Mud shields help with durability and protection while the KEEN.DRY™ waterproof breathable membranes help dissipate sweat and keep your feet dry. The heel-capture system promotes stability and the 4mm lugs boast excellent high-traction grip. Weighing in at just over two pounds, you’ll love having the Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof boots on the trail with you.
Timberland White Ledge Mid
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Among the best leather hiking boots available, the Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof boots will keep your feet protected wherever you’re hiking. The uppers are made from a premium full-grain leather which offers durability and comfort. The construction is waterproof and seam-sealed to keep your feet dry as you pass through streams or during rain storms, and the lace hardware is rustproof. The rubber outsoles have multi-directional lugs and in interior footbed is made from a dual-density EVA foam. The Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof model even has a women’s version that sits at the top of the list of the best women’s hiking boots, so the whole family can have a pair of these amazing boots.
Vasque St. Elias GTX
Weight: 2 lbs. 15 oz.
These are another model that are praised as the best hiking boots for women as well as men. The Vasque St. Elias GTX boots are rugged and durable to help you successfully tackle everything from Australia’s Great Ocean Walk to Alaska’s wilderness. The leather uppers combine with the waterproof GORE-TEX® membranes to keep your feet comfortable even in wet conditions. The outsoles are designed to offer premium traction to help you take on even the most difficult or slippery terrain. If you’re on the hunt for the best boots for snow hiking, be sure to consider the Vasque St. Elias GTX boots.
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II
Weight: 2 lbs. 0 oz.
Good hiking boots are hard to find, but once you see the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof boots, your search will be over. These lightweight hiking boots are coated with leather and designed to be durable, protective, stylish, and comfortable. The seam-sealed construction is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about hiking through puddles, creeks, or rain. The Omni-Grip™ outsole is impressively grippy and will allow you to trek over countless miles of gravel, roots, rocks, and more. The midsoles are made of Techlite™ which will give you extended comfort and premium cushioning. You’ll thank yourself for choosing the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof boots.
Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry
Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
You never again have to question your boots in rough weather. Ranked as one of the best winter hiking boots, the Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry boots can keep your feet dry and comfortable in wet conditions. These boots are designed for minimalist and day hikes. Breathability is improved thanks to the mesh panels in the uppers. You no longer have to worry about rain or puddles thanks to the waterproof nubuck leather uppers and the UltraDry waterproof and breathable membranes. The TPU shank and EBA midsole help protect your feet from rough terrain and decrease the likelihood of twisted ankles and knees. Rocky slabs and muddy trails are issues of the past when you’re wearing Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry boots.
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
Weight: 2 lbs. 6.4 oz.
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX model is one of the best hiking boots for men who enjoy hikes with moderate terrain. These boots offer a low-profile fit with breathable and waterproof protection. They have a Sock-Fit™ construction which makes for a snug fit and the asymmetric lace system means the fit will also be precise. The weight and performance are optimized thanks to the triple-density EVA midsoles. These are great boots to boulder-hop and scramble in because the Vibram® Drumlin soles give you impressive traction and edging capabilities. If fast-and-light trips are your thing, go with the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boots.
Hiking boots are a great investment which can make or break your foot comfort on the trail. A good hiking boot will allow you to master tough terrain while keeping your feet comfortable and dry. When you hit the trail, you’ll be grateful you chose high-quality hiking boots.
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