Best Hiking Boots for Men of 2024

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Knee-down view of a hiker walking a ridge in the Cascade Mountains in the Men's Salomon Quest 4 GTX hiking boots
Salomon Quest 4 GTX – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (

It’s important to treat your feet right on trail. But when you’re looking for a new pair of hiking boots, you’ll quickly find there’s a lot to consider – fit, traction, support, price, break-in period, and weight, among other factors.

The general trend in the boot market is moving towards fast and light. Many hikers are looking for comfortable, lightweight boots to cover miles in mixed terrain. However, if you’re looking for firm support, long-term durability, and the ability to carry heavy loads in rugged, off-trail topography, you’ll likely want to prioritize a burly boot designed to perform in tough conditions.

Whichever route you choose, our footwear experts have tested dozens of boots over thousands of miles from the best brands. It’s our mission to help you find the perfect pair to keep your feet happy and protected on the trail.If you’re also interested in low-cut, lighter-weight footwear, check out our best hiking shoes review. For the open-toed adventurers among us, we’ve even tested a ton of hiking sandals. And if you want to let your feet air out at the end of a long day, you’ll want to look at our favorite camp shoes too.

Quick Picks for Men’s Hiking Boots

Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best Hiking Boots Overall: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX ($175)

Best Budget Hiking Boots: Merrell Moab 3 WP ($150)

Best Synthetic Hiking Boots: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX ($200)

Best Hiking Boots for Support, Durability & Comfort: Lowa Renegade GTX ($255)

Versatile & Lightweight Hiking Boots: HOKA Anacapa 2 Mid GTX ($195)

Best Wide-Fit Hiking Boots: KEEN Targhee III WP ($165)

Best Balance of Weight, Durability & Support: Salomon Quest 4 GTX ($230)

What’s new

We’ve been testing a ton of new boots as well as putting additional miles on our old favorites:

Blue and grey hiking boot

Men’s Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Best Hiking Boots Overall

Price: $175

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 14.4 oz.

Options: N/A

Upper Material: Poly-coated leather


  • Minimal break-in
  • Excellent traction
  • Ultralight
  • Stable
  • Good for lightweight backpacking


  • Less ankle support than some
  • Not as durable
  • Flimsy insert

When it comes to comfort and low weight, look no further than the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 GTX boots. Although most hiking boots require at least a short break-in period, the X Ultra 4s require barely any – they’re so comfortable you can take them on a big hike fresh out of the box. These award winners are also a great choice for most foot shapes and sizes since they offer widths in narrow and wide.

These are some of the lightest boots on our list at a mere 15.2 ounces per boot. That means the X Ultras feel nimble and flexible like high-top trail runners, but still offer stability and durability to traverse rough terrain with ease like much burlier boots. The X Ultras are great for backpackers who carry loads up to 35 pounds and want a waterproof mid-height boot but still want to feel nimble and agile on the move. They are the middle ground between a protective hiking boot and a cushioned over-ankle hiking shoe, offering just enough of both for fast movement on packed trails.

But, you’ll trade considerably lighter weight for less support and durability overall – especially versus heavier, more robust boots on this list. The poly-coated leather uppers won’t last as long as an all-leather boot. The flexible collar allows more movement at the ankle, but they wear faster. And, the insert that comes with the boot is thinner so we recommend swapping in your own for better support.

The average fit, combined with a geometric lug pattern and excellent comfort, makes these boots feel secure, grippy, and stable from the moment you put them on. If you’re looking for a very lightweight hiking boot that can handle multi-day treks in almost any conditions, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX will keep you comfy and dry.

Tan hiking boot with grey accents

Men’s Merrell Moab 3 WP

Best Budget Hiking Boots

Price: $150

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 9.1 oz.

Options: Non-waterproof

Upper Material: Leather/mesh


  • Less expensive
  • Minimal break-in
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Breathable


  • Bulky
  • Thin insole
  • Runs wide

The Merrell Moab 3 WP offers the best bang for your buck on this list. At only $150, these boots offer great value, which is why the Moabs have been at the top of our Best Hiking Boots lists (Men and Women) for years. The CleverHiker team has taken Moabs on hundreds of adventures to keep our feet dry and comfy – from wet day hikes with kids in the Washington Cascades and New Hampshire’s White Mountains to frigid trails in the Colorado Rockies, and massive mid-February blizzards in the city.

The Moab 3s are trusted, ultra-popular, waterproof hiking boots that hit the sweet spot for weight, durability, and superior comfort. We’ve found the beefy midsole, wide toe box, and long, grippy laces make these boots feel very adjustable and comfy on almost any terrain. The lug pattern is aggressive and knobby, so you’ll feel stable whether you’re on a groomed, flat forest path, climbing a steep trail, or scrambling to a summit.

The Moab 3s are a bit bulky, so a lighter weight option will serve you better for long days (over 15 miles) with a lot of elevation gain. And, the insole is on the thinner side so we’ve found adding aftermarket inserts helps with arch support.

All things considered, Merrell is at the top of its game with these boots. They have good breathability to prevent sweat buildup and offer strong durability – including a reinforced heel and toe cap. When it comes to reliable and high-quality footwear that is affordable and ready for adventure, take a closer look at the Moab 3s.

Stock photo of the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX boots with a white background

Men’s La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX

Best Synthetic Hiking Boots

Price: $200

Weight (Pair): 2 lb. 1 oz.

Options: None

Upper Material: Poly and plastic


  • Waterproof
  • Snug fit
  • Flexible upper
  • Grippy
  • Supportive
  • Lightweight


  • Expensive
  • Toe box narrower than average
  • Less ankle support than average
  • Less durable than some

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX feel stable, comfortable, and agile, making them our top recommendation for a fully synthetic boot. They are born from La Sportiva’s iconic trail runner, the Ultra Raptor II and it shows. At barely over a pound per boot, the Raptor IIs are flexible and light for fast movement like a trail shoe, but offer impressive waterproofing and ankle protection like a much heavier leather boot. The Ultra Raptors have a grippy lug pattern with outstanding traction on everything from wet logs to sandy slopes and offer plenty of support on steep descents.

However, the Raptor IIs, like much of La Sportiva’s footwear, tend to run a bit narrow, so we recommend sizing up if you have wider feet. And, research shows that shoes made with synthetic materials wear out faster than leather or hybrid options. These are sturdy, well-built boots, but they may not last quite as long as the leather options on this list. 

If you crave technical precision and great support on rough terrain, or you’re just looking for a lightweight, versatile boot for most hiking conditions, the Raptor II boots are ready for adventure. They offer top-notch grip, great waterproofing, and a cushy feel whether you’re carrying a heavy backpack on smooth dirt trails or tackling rough and rocky terrain off the beaten path.

Grey hiking boot

Men’s Lowa Renegade GTX

Best Hiking Boots for Support, Durability & Comfort

Price: $255

Weight (Pair): 2 lb. 0.4 oz.

Options: Low, Winter

Upper Material: Nubuck leather


  • Supportive
  • Durable
  • Excellent traction
  • Stable
  • Good ankle support
  • Good for backpacking with a heavier load


  • Heavier than some
  • Expensive
  • Medium break-in period

The Lowa Renegade GTX is a classic leather hiking boot that offers stellar durability, outstanding foot protection, and excellent traction. If your hikes flip-flop between established, well-packed trails and challenging off-trail adventures, the Renegade is the boot you’ve been looking for.

These boots offer a thick but flexible sole with a robust lug pattern that lends outstanding stability to get where you’re going without foot fatigue. Plus, the Renegade’s sleek profile, metal grommets, and variety of earth-tone colorways make for a stylish boot. Whether you’re walking the dog through the neighborhood in freezing winter temperatures or hiking in spring rain, the Gore-Tex liner and Nubuck Leather upper create a waterproof boot that extends well over the ankle with an angled collar.

There’s a lot to like about the Renegades, but be ready to shell out for them. They are one of the most expensive boots on this list. That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more durable pair almost anywhere – these boots are built to last. That means you won’t have to replace your footwear as often as synthetic or lesser-made boots.

This model is also in the bottom half of the pack for weight, making it heavier than previous iterations. Despite their average weight, the Renegades are comfortable and easy to love. Unlike many hiking boots in this price range, the Renegades almost entirely avoid the pitfalls of traditional leather hiking boots of being stiff, cumbersome, and heavy. Even though they have a medium break-in period, once they’ve softened, they could easily become your all-time favorite boots. 

When it comes to unparalleled ankle support and best-in-class stability, the Lowa Renegades outperform the competition. Thanks to a super-structured upper and outsole, the Renegades are built for hikers who are ready for off-trail adventures in a durable, stable, comfortable package.

Stock photo of HOKA Anacapa 2 Mid GTX

Men’s HOKA Anacapa 2 Mid GTX

Versatile & Lightweight Hiking Boots

Price: $195

Weight (Pair): 2 lb.

Options: Low, Lightweight Low, Lightweight Mid

Upper Material: Nubuck leather


  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Supportive
  • Rockered sole prevents foot fatigue
  • Good traction
  • Supportive midsole


  • Outsole not super durable
  • Clunky top lacing hooks
  • Extended heel takes getting used to
  • Runs narrow

The HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX offers outstanding comfort and support for day hikes and multi-night backpacking adventures. With a narrow midsole and a responsive, rockered outsole, the Anacapas feel remarkably balanced, stable, and responsive. The lug pattern is robust, delivering excellent traction and a sticky grip. Because of a wider forefoot, your toes will enjoy more wiggle room, and they’ll stay dry due to the Gore-Tex waterproof membrane.

The most unusual feature of the Anacapas is the large, protruding swallowtail heel. Though it provides terrific cushioning for your heel strike, it can take a while to get used to. Additionally, these are not boots for hikers headed off-trail or above treeline. The outsole is cushy but bulky, making it perfect for most conditions on trail, but you’ll have less sensitivity in more technical terrain versus a boot with a narrower toe box and compact outsoles. That means this pair won’t give you as much ground feel as you navigate obstacles on your route. 

The Anacapas are also more prone to damage than heavier boots with more durable rubber outsoles. However, this isn’t a dealbreaker, since these boots are stellar for navigating the roots and rocks of the average hard-packed hiking trail, and the cushioning means your feet will stay comfy and cozy.

We appreciate the Anacapas for their extra touches like a large cuff loop for easy on and off, nubuck leather panels for extra durability, and an upper design that makes the Anacapas look as stylish as they are supportive. At just a nudge over 1 pound for each boot, this is some of the lightest footwear on our list. The Anacapas are a must-have for those who value both comfort and style during extended backpacking trips.

Brown hiking boot

Men’s KEEN Targhee III WP

Best wide-fit hiking boots

Price: $165

Weight (Pair): 2 lb. 2 oz.

Options: Non-waterproof

Upper Material: Nubuck leather


  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Very little break-in
  • Beefy toe cap
  • Secure fit


  • Less ankle support
  • Less durable than some

If you’re looking for roomy boots, the KEEN Targhee III Mid WP is your glass slipper. They offer a ton of room in the toe box so your feet can stretch out, and they come in wide sizes to accommodate an array of foot shapes. Between their comfort, wide fit, and classic profile, these boots are super popular. We liked them so much that the low-cut version of the Targhee 3 lands on our guide to the Best Hiking Shoes for Men as well.

The Targhee III has an unusual, supportive design feature: a nylon strap that wraps from the sides of the boots around the back of the heel, which makes the fit feel snug and locked in, perfect for traversing rocky trails and tackling steep descents. With a flexible leather upper and a slightly more flexible sole than other similar boots on this list, these KEENs are comfy out of the box and have a short break-in period.

The uppers of the Targhee III are softer than other leather boots on this list, which means they are immediately comfortable, but they’re a bit less protective for your ankles. Also, the grip pattern on the Targhee III is wide and simple with shallower lugs. The outsole wears out slightly faster than average but this model still offers excellent traction on most surfaces.

They walk a fine line between support and flexibility. When it comes to a wide-fitting, super comfortable, and affordable mid-range hiking boot, the KEEN Targhee III earns its place.

Black and grey hiking boot

Men’s Salomon Quest 4 GTX

Best Balance of Weight, Durability & Support

Price: $230

Weight (Pair): 2 lb. 14 oz.

Options: N/A

Upper Material: Leather/mesh


  • Excellent ankle support
  • Stable
  • Durable
  • Great traction
  • Supportive soles
  • Good for backpacking with a heavier load


  • Heavier than some
  • Medium break-in period

The Salomon Quest 4 GTX offers seriously burly ankle support, which translates to unrivaled stability on almost any terrain. A mix of leather and mesh textiles combined with a Gore-Tex liner will keep your feet reliably dry through water crossings and well-protected on rocky trails. The Quest 4’s aggressive lug design offers great traction, and the boots are ergonomic and comfortable out of the box. They have a medium break-in period, so we highly recommend wearing them around town before any long days on the trail.

The CleverHiker team really likes these boots, and they’ve ranked highly on our list for years. However, we found the biggest issue with this current iteration is durability: the uppers tend to separate from the rubber outsoles faster than prior versions. Though this isn’t a dealbreaker for us, it knocks this model out of the top five.

The Quest 4 GTX is also one of the heaviest boots we tested – but if you carry 40 or more pounds in your backpack, they may be the perfect fit for you. Since this model offers so much stability and support, they’re ideally suited for carrying a bigger load in your backpack, especially versus lightweight options. Despite the weight penalty, these boots feel considerably more agile and lightweight than boots in a similar weight category.

The Quests are spendy, but for us, they’re worth the price tag. These are super comfortable, supportive, and easy-to-love hiking boots that will help you crush hundreds of miles of trail, from high desert to above treeline.

Stock image of the Vivobarefoot Tracker 2 FG

Men’s Vivobarefoot Tracker 2 FG

Best Zero-Drop Hiking Boots

Price: $240

Weight (Pair): 2 lb. 8 oz.

Options: None

Upper Material: Nubuck leather


  • Stable
  • Natural foot shape increases comfort
  • Good traction
  • Burly


  • Heavy for barefoot boots
  • Expensive
  • Laces are stiff

If you want the protection and waterproofing of a boot but don’t need the burly support, the Vivobarefoot Tracker 2 FG is the pair for you. These are zero-drop, foot-shaped boots for day hikes and quick jaunts. They offer an ultra-thin 2.5 mm tread depth, so you’ll feel the contours of roots and rocks on the trail much more than a traditional boot with a stiff sole.

That said, the Tracker 2s still offer good traction on most surfaces, a snug fit, and stylish versatility for strolling in the suburbs or wandering in the wild. Their flexible, sticky rubber outsole and sturdy leather uppers offer great protection while allowing your foot to spread and flex naturally.

Where the Tracker 2s stand out for comfort and stability, they fall a bit short for durability and waterproofness. Because the Trackers’ outsoles are glued – not sewn, like other Vivobarefoot footwear – the rubber outsoles can separate from the leather uppers. And, the leather uppers, when subjected to consistently wet conditions, can leach water. 

That said, the flexibility, outstanding comfort, and low weight of the Tracker 2s are well worth this tradeoff. With care and regular use, they can last for hundreds of miles. In general, zero-drop boots offer a lower level of support than the beefier boots on our list. But for fast and light adventures that call for more protection than a zero-drop trail runner can provide, these boots are a perfect fit.

Stock image of Columbia Newton Ridge Plus 2 WP

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus 2 WP

Less Expensive Hiking Boots for Occasional Hikes & Beginners

Price: $100

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 15.8 oz.

Options: Winter, Suede

Upper Material: Poly-coated leather and suede


  • Less expensive
  • Durable
  • Supportive
  • Lots of colorways


  • Looks worn sooner than it is
  • Medium break-in period
  • Stiff
  • Hot
  • Not fully waterproof

If you’re on a tight budget but itching to hit the trail, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus 2 are the most budget-friendly hiking boots on our list. At only $100, this pair is durable, stable, and offers burly traction. It shines for its classic hiking boot profile featuring a stable, structured outsole and a leather and suede upper. These boots also come in tons of different colors and sizes, ranging from 7 to 17, as well as wide sizing options, so chances are there’s a Newton Ridge design that fits your foot.

On the downside, the Newton Ridge Plus 2s are slower to break in and feel somewhat stiff out of the box and don’t offer quite as much cushioning at the heel or midfoot as others on this list. We also found this pair is not 100% waterproof, so step carefully across those creek crossings.

That said, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus 2 WP is a less expensive option that doesn’t compromise on style or accessibility. Whether you’re taking the first few steps into the world of hiking, you need a durable boot for a few backcountry trips a year or want a stylish and simple hiking boot to add to your rotation, these are incredibly popular and affordable boots. Although they aren’t ideal for really long hikes, they are a cost-effective way to get into day hiking or short backpacking trips.

Stock image of the Timberland Mt. Maddsen WP hiking boots with a white background

Timberland Mt. Maddsen WP

Durable & Supportive Leather Hiking Boots

Price: $120

Weight (Pair): 3 lb.

Options: N/A

Upper Material: Full grain leather


  • Less expensive
  • Beefy build
  • Great ankle protection


  • Stiff upper
  • Longer break-in period
  • Heavy

The Timberland Mt. Maddsen is the definition of a classic, all-leather hiking boot: it’s sturdy, waterproof footwear designed for romping in shoulder seasons and mucky trail conditions. With a gusseted tongue, burly outsole traction, and rugged ankle protection, the Mt. Maddsens feel hefty and strong

It makes sense why they’re so popular with day hikers and weekend warriors: they have an outstanding price point. At just over $100, these boots are easy on your wallet and can handle yard work, short-range hikes, and all sorts of landscapes.

The leather upper takes multiple wears to begin softening, so patience pays off in the end. We found that breaking them in thoroughly before any big hikes – around 20-30 total miles – was crucial to avoid hotspots and pain. The narrow toe box and slow softening of the leather caused us some irritation and a few hotspots. And, in general, leather boots tend to run hot, so these are not our first choice for summer hiking.

Though the Mt. Maddsen boots aren’t our top recommendation, they still deserve a spotlight. The friendly price point is ideal for getting you out on the trail.  They perform well, come in a lot of different sizes, and are a solid choice if you need to save some bucks.

Product Comparison Table

Product Price Weight (Pair) Upper Material
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
View At REI View At Amazon
Editor's Pick
$175 1 lb. 14.4 oz. Poly-coated leather
Merrell Moab 3 WP
View at REI View at Amazon
Budget Buy
$150 1 lb. 9.1 oz. Leather/mesh
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX
View at REI View at La Sportiva
Editor's Pick
$200 2 lb. 1 oz. Poly and plastic
Lowa Renegade GTX
View at REI View at Amazon
Editor's Pick
$255 2 lb. 0.4 oz. Nubuck leather
HOKA Anacapa 2 Mid GTX
View at REI View at Backcountry
$195 2 lb. Nubuck leather
View at REI View at Amazon
$165 2 lb. 2 oz. Nubuck leather
Salomon Quest 4 GTX
View at REI View at Backcountry
Editor's Pick
$230 2 lb. 14 oz. Leather/mesh
Vivobarefoot Tracker 2 FG
View at REI View at Amazon
$240 2 lb. 8 oz. Nubuck leather
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus 2 WP
View at Columbia View at Amazon
Budget Buy
$100 1 lb. 15.8 oz. Poly-coated leather and suede
Timberland Mt. Maddsen WP
View at REI View at Amazon
$120 3 lb. Full grain leather

What’s Most Important to You in a Hiking Boot?


When it comes to footwear, comfort is subjective – a perfect fit for you might not suit someone else. That’s why we recommend trying on as many boots as possible to find the shoes that work best with your foot shape, arch, and style before making a purchase. In general, consider boots with roomy toe boxes, tailored cushioning and support, flexibility for a natural gait, and enough protection for toes and heels on trail.

Hiking boots that don’t require much breaking in to be comfortable

Best hiking boots with a wide fit

Most supportive hiking boots


While hiking shoes can be pricey, investing in the most comfortable pair – and still staying within your budget – is crucial. Our team knows better than anyone that blisters and foot pain are often the result of subpar footwear. Plus, cheaper options may lack breathability, wear out faster, and can cause discomfort. Over time, quality shoes are a cost-effective choice because they’ll long outlast frequent replacements. The boots on this list are truly the top-performing hiking boots on the market and represent a wide spread of price points, so no matter what boots you choose, it will be money well spent.

Best budget hiking boots

Best mid-range hiking boots

Best high-end hiking boots


Generally, the lighter footwear is, the more it can minimize foot and ankle fatigue and help mitigate injuries in sensitive places like the knees and hips. We prefer lighter boots for the more flexible soles, agile feel, and ability to go a longer distance at a faster pace.

Though bulkier boots demand more energy use – you’re literally burning more calories as you lift your feet – they’re more durable than lightweight boots. Heavier boots give substantial off-trail protection in the form of toe caps, burlier outsoles, and maximum stability under a heavier pack. To determine the right weight for your next pair of boots, keep in mind your personal preference, trail type, daily mileage, how long you’ll be hiking, and possible weather conditions.

Best lightweight hiking boots

Best heavy-duty hiking boots


At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do to minimize ankle injuries is strengthening and stretching. But boots with meaningful ankle support can further reduce the risk of rolled ankles, increase the feeling of stability, and provide better water resistance due to their higher cuff. If you’re looking for the most support possible, opt for boots that sit well above the ankle and secure the laces tightly.

Hiking boots with the best ankle support


One of our top priorities for hiking boots is durability, and it’s hard to beat classic leather hiking boots. Leather tends to have a longer lifespan than its synthetic counterparts or hybrid competitors. The sacrifice? Leather footwear is heavier on the whole. For those focused on weight, consider a more balanced approach: look for lighter hiking boots or even hiking shoes with nylon or TPU overlays on the uppers. That way, you can rock boots with a lighter-weight feel while enjoying abrasion resistance and extended durability.

Most durable hiking boots

Boots with the best balance of weight & durability


Many boots on this list come in waterproof and non-waterproof versions. We recommend selecting the hiking boots that suit your needs and then deciding between the two.

Waterproof boots excel in slushy, muddy trail conditions and wet weather. That’s why we recommend waterproof hiking boots for cold, wet shoulder season hikes with unpredictable weather. They’ll keep your feet dry, stable, and comfortable. That said, we usually avoid hiking boots in summer. They aren’t as breathable as lightweight options, and will likely feel hot and sweaty on warm days – and can be slow to dry if they get wet on the inside.

Non-waterproof hiking shoes are ideal for drier conditions, multi-day trips, and thru-hikes. With breathable mesh uppers, they dry faster and keep feet cool, making them a fine fit on summer days. Your hiking boots will likely soak through if they get wet, but the toss-up is they’ll dry faster than waterproof options, so they’re a reasonable choice for hiking from June to September among day hikers and weekend backpackers

Best waterproof hiking boots

Best non-waterproof hiking boots

How to Choose Hiking Boots


Ensuring the right fit for your hiking boots is crucial for staying comfy on trail. We recommend boots at least a half size larger than your regular size, especially if you’re at the edge of one size or between sizes. Though the larger fit might feel a bit awkward at first, it accounts for foot swelling during long hikes and big-mile days. With more room, your toes can wiggle freely and your foot can move naturally, making your hike more comfortable.

The finger test is a practical way to evaluate how well your boots fit. Loosen the laces then place your foot inside the boot with toes against the front of the toe box. Then, gently slide your index finger between your heel and the back of the shoe. If your finger fits easily, you’ll minimize the risk of toe jamming during steep descents, reducing the likelihood of hot spots, pain, and nail damage.This bit of extra space is also to accommodate the thickness of socks you plan to wear. Different sock types can impact overall comfort, so when you’re trying on shoes, be sure to wear the hiking socks you plan on wearing on your hike. If you plan to use aftermarket insoles, the extra room fits the curves and shape of the insole that’s best for your foot.

Vasque BreezePhoto credit: Casey Handley (


Are you planning to strap on those boots and hit the trail immediately? You might want to rethink that plan. Although many of the boots on this list offer instant comfort, almost all of them require a break-in period. That’s why we recommend wearing the boots, shoes, or trail runners you plan to backpack or hike with for at least 1-2 weeks before you start hiking in them.

Consider wearing your new boots during regular activities to help them mold to your foot. Whether you’re running errands, commuting to your favorite coffee shop, or walking the dog on city trails, give your fresh kicks as much time to soften around your unique foot as possible. Plus, familiarizing yourself with them will give you plenty of time to iron out any concerns before you’re miles deep in the woods.

Zamberlan ViozVasque BreezeAltra Lone Peak & KEEN Targhee III Mid WP Photo credit: Casey Handley (


Hiking requires boots with a strong outsole and outstanding grip pattern. Whether you’re slipping and sliding through marshy, slick creekside trails or picking your way across uneven and jagged scree fields, the amount of traction your boots offer is vital to your comfort and stability. Your boots should grip well in most if not all landscapes and conditions. Rest assured that lug pattern, traction, and grip were front and center in our decision-making process when curating this list.


If you hike regularly, wet feet are inevitable – no matter what shoes or boots you’re wearing, or if they’re waterproof. From massive rainstorms to deep puddles, wet feet can be the cause of major issues on a hike. Wet conditions inside your feet can quickly lead to hot spots, blisters, and pain. Luckily, a healthy foot care routine can thwart much of the damage. For our favorite tips on how to manage moisture and handle blisters, see our guide How to Prevent and Treat Blisters.


Waterproof hiking shoes are our go-to on soggy days when the trail is full of mud, lined with snow, or the forecast looks rainy. However, water will still, eventually, find its way into your shoes. Heavy rain, light mist, and wet vegetation lining the trail can easily drip down your legs and into your shoes. Since waterproof treatments wear off over time, you’ll need to reapply a waterproof treatment to keep your shoes sealed.

Salomon Quest 4 – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (


Whether you’ve got pristine, healthy, young feet or you’re dealing with long-term injuries or chronic conditions like plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or shin splints, we do recommend upgrading to aftermarket insoles. Aftermarket insoles not only help beat foot fatigue, but they can provide essential extra stability, more cushion, and increased arch support. Aftermarket insoles are really beneficial for those seeking a remedy to rigid or minimally supportive boots. They can also take up a bit more space to get a more customized fit for folks who are stuck between sizes or simply want a tighter feel.

Aftermarket Insoles – Photo credit: Casey Handley (


Take it from us – quality socks are just as important as quality shoes. Our team has hiked thousands of miles over the years, and we’ve learned that well-made, appropriately fitted socks are essential for not only the health of your feet but your peace of mind on trail. Check out our guide to the Best Hiking Socks for some of our top suggestions and all-time favorites for comfort, durability, moisture-wicking, and fast-drying features.

The waterproof Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX have a good balance of weather protection and breathability
Vasque Breeze Photo credit: Casey Handley (