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So many people love hitting the trails but don’t want to be weighed down by heavy hiking boots, that’s where hiking shoes come in! Hiking shoes offer support and comfort on easy hikes and still keep your feet protected. With an overwhelming number of hiking shoes on the market, we’ve picked out some of the best so you don’t have to waste any extra time hunting around.
Comparison Table of the Best Hiking Shoes
Below is a list of the best shoes for hiking. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
What to Look for in Good Hiking Shoes
Here are the most important things to consider when you need new hiking shoes.
One of the main differences between a hiking boot and a shoe is the weight. You’ll save valuable pounds if you’re okay with wearing a low-top shoe for your hikes instead of a higher boot. But this is only a safe idea on smoother hiking trails where ankle support isn’t a huge issue. Typically the biggest advocates for hiking shoes are those who love day hikes or are minimalist travelers excited to hang out in nature and camp overnight in their hammocks.
However, weight can be a big issue even with hiking shoes, especially on longer or multi-day hikes. Paying attention to the weight of shoes before buying them can save a lot of strain on your feet when you’re on the trails.
2. Midsoles and Cushioning
You’ll be glad to have a midsole because it cushions and protects your feet against sharp objects and acts as a shock absorber.
a. Thermoplastic Polyurethane bka TPU
TPU is more durable and more expensive but less cushy. People like this material because it’s more supportive and not prone to compression like EVA.
This lightweight material is praised because it’s soft and reduces the sting from impacts. However, EVA midsoles tend to break down sooner, so if you prefer long-distance hikes, this may not be the best midsole for you.
This is the main improvement you’ll notice when transitioning from a standard shoe to a hiking shoe. The quality of traction is determined by the outsoles. Vibram and Salomon are two companies well-known for the performance and quality of their outsoles. Keep in mind that outsoles can vary, some are geared toward things like scrambling over rocks while others will improve gripping capabilities in mud.
4. Upper Material
The material of the uppers will impact breathability and durability of your shoe.
a. Nubuck Leather
Nubuck leather is great when it comes to durability, but not so great when it comes to breathability. Made of full-grain leather, it’s typically found on heavier hiking shoes.
a. Synthetic Nylon and Mesh
This is the way to go if you’re concerned about breathability. These materials also do a great job decreasing the weight of the shoes.
5. Toe Caps
It’s inevitable that you’re going to be hiking on a stunning trail, pull your camera out to snap a picture of the amazing scenery, and stub your toe on something. To make sure your inevitable toe stubbings don’t ruin your hike, it’s best to make sure your shoes have full rubber toe caps to keep your toes protected.
6. Lacing Systems
When trying out shoes, be sure your heels are secure when the shoes are laced up. If they’re not, your feet will slide in the shoes and create blisters and hot spots. Also, be sure the laces stay secure so you’re not constantly having to adjust them on the trail.
This comes down to personal preference and has a direct impact on the breathability of the shoe. Searching for the best waterproof hiking shoes is a good idea if you’re hiking in a location where there may be unexpected rainfall, or if you frequently hike through streams or in the mountains. On the flip side, waterproofing adds additional weight and decreases breathability. So if you tend to only hike in warm and dry areas, you can probably pass on waterproofing.
Best Hiking Shoes Reviews
Now that you know what to look for before buying new hiking shoes, here are some of our favorite hiking shoes currently on the market.
1. Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
Upper: Textile/synthetic leather
Hands down, the best trail hiking shoes are the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX shoes. These waterproof shoes help you tackle all types of slippery terrain, even descents. Even though they’re waterproof, they have soft textile linings to help wick moisture away from your feet. The EVA midsoles offer ideal comfort and heel cups for additional support. The shoes have rubber toe caps and mud guards for protection, along with tongue gussets which keep debris from getting inside. The outsoles are made of two types of rubber to improve grip, and the lines on the outsoles decrease foot fatigue by increasing the flexibility of the shoe. As one of the best hiking shoes brands on the market, it comes as no surprise that the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX shoes are some of the best available.
2. Merrell Moab 2 Vent
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Upper: Suede leather/mesh
Merrell has made sure they’ve given you everything you need in a hiking shoe to perform well on the trail. The mesh lining means the shoe is breathable and offers great ventilation. The Merrell Moab 2 Vent shoes offer heel and arch support thanks to the EVA contoured footbeds. The midsoles also add stability and absorb shock. The Vibram outsoles have a 5mm lug depth which allows for impressive gripping. The uppers are made from mesh and suede leather and have rubber toe caps. With Moab standing for “Mother-Of-All-Boots”, these really are some of the best hiking shoes you can buy.
3. The North Face Ultra 110 GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Making the list of the best hiking shoes for women and men, the North Face Ultra 110 GTX shoes are designed for you to excel on any trail condition. The mesh uppers are breathable and have Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membranes to make sure your feet stay protected in the rain. Comfort is incredibly enhanced thanks to the OrthoLite footbeds and the compression-molded EVA midsoles. These shoes have UltrATAC™ rubber outsoles to make sure you have great traction no matter where you find yourself. Whether you’re hiking in the heat of summer or the dead of winter, the North Face Ultra 110 GTX shoes will have your back.
4. Altra Lone Peak 4
Weight: 1 lb. 4.4 oz.
This revamped model quickly skyrocketed to become one of the best lightweight hiking shoes at only about 19 ounces. The Altra Lone Peak 4 shoes feature mesh uppers with integrated tongues to increase durability and comfort. They even have an increased drainage capacity to help them dry after crossing a creek or if you get stuck in a rain shower. This shoe was designed to promote low-impact landings with the ZeroDrop™ platform which places the heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground while also helping to naturally align your posture. They even have improved TrailClaw™ lugs to help you grip better on slippery and uneven terrain. These shoes are Altra’s best model so far!
5. Adidas Outdoor AX2
Weight: 2 lb. 4 oz.
The Adidas Outdoor AX2 hiking shoes are light and let you move fast on the trails. Not only are they great for hiking, but they can easily be used for your other favorite outdoor activities. The EVA midsoles are loved because of their comfort and cushioning. The outsoles offer a 5mm lug height which provides great traction in wet conditions. A pair of these shoes only weighs 10.9 ounces and can easily double as a casual shoe. So if you’re thinking about hiking in Big Sur then heading north to explore San Francisco, the Adidas Outdoor AX2 hiking shoes are perfect for the job.
6. Keen Targhee III Low WP
Weight: 1 lb. 14.8 oz.
Upper: Oiled nubuck
When it comes to the best hiking shoe for men, the Keen Targhee III Low WP takes the cake. The midsoles are EVA to help soften your stride and the heel-capture system enhances stability. Protection and durability are enhanced with mud shields. The KEEN.DRY™ waterproof membranes allow sweat to dissipate while keeping your feet dry. Even in slippery conditions the 4mm lugs help you grip well. The shoes even have natural odor control. For an amazing shoe with a loyal fanbase, choose the Keen Targhee III Low WP hiking shoes.
7. Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry
Weight: 2 lb. 2.8 oz.
Upper: Nubuck leather
A great option for both men and women, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry hiking shoes are special because their ankle-friendly collars allow you to take long-distance hikes with no problems at all. The nubuck leather uppers are waterproof and the nylon mesh liners are moisture-wicking to enhance dryness and comfort. They have EVA midsoles and nylon shanks offer solid protection. The shoes have heel counters and toe overlays as well. The high-friction outsoles allow you to grip well on a variety of terrain. It’s a rarity that a shoe is both a great option for men and among the best women’s hiking shoes as well, but the Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDrys hiking shoes have succeeded at this.
8. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 8.4 oz.
Upper: Cordura mesh
You’ll master super tricky trails quickly when you choose the Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX, some of the best shoes for hiking money can buy. These shoes have a minimalist design but give you everything you need for your feet to be protected and supported on the trail. For added cushion this shoe has a 4mm OrthoLite® 3D molded insert. The Cordura mesh uppers have a protective TPU film to hinder abrasions, and toe cap guards will keep your toes safe from stubbings. These shoes have a GORE-TEX® membrane inside for waterproofing and a Vibram® Megagrip outsole to give you quality traction. For an outstanding shoe that can serve many purposes, the Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX hiking shoe is a good option.
9. Saucony Peregrine ISO
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Upper: Engineered mesh
Considered some of the best trail running shoes for hiking, the Saucony Peregrine ISO shoes are designed to help you tackle all types of trails. They offer the perfect combination of versatility and comfort. The comfort is enhanced thanks to the Pwrfoam midsoles and Everun topsoles. The uppers are trail-specific to allow for an ideal fit even when the terrain is rough and rocky. The flexible lugs are designed to conform to a variety of terrain to help keep you safe and maintain traction. If there’s a such thing as a perfect trail running shoe, then it’s the Saucony Peregrine ISO.
10. Columbia Redmond Low WP
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
This durable hiking shoe will keep you sure-footed on the trail all while looking like a low-profile sneaker. Even in the rain the Columbia Redmond Low WP hiking shoe will perform like a dream. The Techlite™ lightweight midsole gives you an amazing return, excellent cushion, and extended comfort. The upper is made from a combination mesh and suede material while the outsoles are made of an Omni-Grip™ rubber. The waterproofing is made of an Omni-Tech™ breathable membrane that’s seam-sealed. These truly are some of the best men’s hiking shoes on the market.
Nothing will ruin your hiking adventure quicker than aching or blistering feet, and this is why it’s important to purchase quality hiking shoes. They offer great durability and support without the weight so your next hiking trip can be all fun and no pain.