Best Hiking Shoes for Men of 2024

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Muscular hiker legs traversing an alpine meadow in the HOKA Speedgoat 5 hiking shoes
HOKA Speedgoat 5 – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)

Selecting stellar hiking shoes isn’t just a step in the right direction – it’s one of the most important gear choices you’ll make. Finding the right footwear can make or break your next adventure, so narrowing down the best hiking shoes when it comes to comfort, traction, weight, and durability is crucial.

With so many options, finding the perfect pair can be overwhelming. Luckily, our seasoned team of hiking experts has tested dozens of hiking shoes over 15,000 thousand miles – from day hikes in New England to thru-hikes on several of America’s iconic long trails – so we know what to look for in footwear.

If you want better ankle support on your hikes, our team has also rigorously tested the best hiking boots for men and best hiking boots for women. We’ve tested a wide range of top-tier hiking equipment for all your explorations.

Quick Picks for Men’s Hiking Shoes

Check out this quick list of the best hiking shoes, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.

Best hiking shoes overall: HOKA Speedgoat 5 ($155)

Best budget hiking shoes: Merrell Moab 3 ($120)

Best hiking shoes for technical terrain: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Low ($149)

Best lightweight trail runners for long distances: Saucony Peregrine 14 ($140)

Best zero drop shoes for thru-hiking: Altra Lone Peak 8 ($140)

Supportive & comfortable trail runners for long distances: Brooks Cascadia 17 ($140)

Good balance of flexibility & durability: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX ($160)

Best for town to trail: Danner Trail 2650 ($170)

What’s new

The CleverHiker team has been hard at work testing the many new shoes that came out this year and comparing them against our long-time favorites:

  • The super cushy and comfy HOKA Speedgoat 5s take over the number one spot as best overall hiking shoes.

  • One of our favorite trail runners for thru-hiking, the Brooks Cascadia 17s, make the list for comfort and breathability.

Men’s HOKA Speedgoat 5

Best hiking shoes overall

Price: $155

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 4.6 oz.

Options: Waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm

Pros

  • Very cushy soles
  • Excellent traction
  • Great arch support
  • Lightweight
  • Roomy toe box
  • Breathable
  • No break-in needed

Cons

  • Foam soles have below-average durability
  • Heel foam may take getting used to

The HOKA Speedgoat 5 is the best overall hiking shoe for its unrivaled comfort and support. The Speedgoats have ranked on our list for years thanks to thick, soft, and super responsive midsoles, which make for an incredibly comfortable ride. Thanks to all that cushioning, they are exceptional at impact absorption, so you won’t feel those branches, rocks, or roots while moving down the trail.

Weighing in at only 10.3 ounces each, these are some of the lightest shoes in our lineup, but they don’t skimp on important features. There’s plenty of room in the toe box, and the outsoles have a chunky lug pattern that provides outstanding traction on all surfaces. The Speedgoat’s laces stay put once tied, the uppers are impressively fast-drying and breathable, and these shoes are pleasant and snug right out of the box.

Like many trail runners, the Speedgoats are not built for durability. Although the uppers last longer than many other trail runners – they’re constructed with less mesh, while still offering plenty of ventilation – the foam soles are prone to damage, and tend to wear out faster than burlier trail shoes. That said, we’ve consistently hiked at least 300-400 miles in Speedgoats before they need to be replaced.

The Speedgoats also have a chunky foam dovetail that sticks out from the back of the shoe. It contributes to the shoe’s slightly rockered soles and is essential for that supportive, pillowy feel our team likes so much. This feature took some getting used to, but we have learned to love it. Plus, the Speedgoats come in cheerful, kaleidoscopic colorways, so they are a great choice for hikers and runners who don’t shy away from bold colors.

The Speedgoat 5 leads the pack as a cushioned, extremely lightweight trail runner. If a supportive build, über-cushy feel, and great traction are your top priorities in a hiking shoe, these are a superb option for most feet.

Stock image of Merrell Moab 3 Lows - Men's

Men’s Merrell Moab 3

Best budget hiking shoes

Price: $120

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 9.1 oz.

Options: Waterproof, Gore-Tex

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 11.5 mm

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Very little break-in needed
  • More durable than trail runners
  • Breathable mesh
  • Excellent traction
  • Laces hold well
  • Dry fast for hiking shoes

Cons

  • Heavier than some
  • Not as flexible as trail runners
  • Bulkier outsole than trail runners

The wildly popular Merrell Moab 3 has been our top budget shoe pick for years. These shoes are comfortable, durable, and versatile – and for only $120, we think they’re an outstanding value. These fan favorites offer the burly protection of a hiking boot in a breathable, low-profile shoe with next to no break-in period necessary.

These shoes are a rare combination of durable and breathable, thanks to a blended mesh and leather upper. They also come in a waterproof version, although we prefer the non-waterproof shoes because they dry reasonably fast and offer better ventilation for wet or sweaty feet and on warm days. That said, we are big fans of the waterproof boot version for soggy and muddy hikes, and we named them the most affordable hiking boots in our Best Hiking Boots for Men Guide

Aesthetically, the Moab 3s are about as traditional-looking as hiking shoes come: all the colorways are earth tones, the profile is burly, and the leather and mesh combination is reminiscent of old-school boots. 

Though the Moabs aren’t the sleekest or lightest shoes on the market, they are one of the most supportive, comfortable, and protective. The insoles are contoured with thick heel cushioning, the midsole is soft but firm, and the outsoles offer an aggressive lug pattern and stellar traction on most surfaces, while still feeling durable. The thick toe and heel guards protect your feet from the trail, so you’ll barely notice bramble and sharp rocks. We also like the Moab’s long laces because they’re easy to tie, cinch the shoe tightly around our feet, and don’t need constant adjustments.

Compared to many other shoes on this list, these are on the bulkier and heavier side, so we tend to leave them at home for long backpacking trips and huge hiking days. However, we highly recommend them for just about any other hiking adventure. For weekend warriors, summer hikers, and folks who prioritize comfort on short overnight trips and day hikes, the Moab 3 might just be your glass slipper.

Stock photo of the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II hiking shoes with a white background

Men’s La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II

Best hiking shoes for technical terrain

Price: $149

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 9 oz.

Options: Waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9 mm

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Comfortable
  • Sticky grip
  • Durable
  • Huge toe guard

Cons

  • Runs a bit narrow
  • High heel drop not for everybody
  • Limited breathability

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Low are protective and burly mid-distance trail runners specialized for alpine terrain. La Sportiva calls these mountain running shoes, and we agree. Gear Analyst, Ian Krammer, climbed almost all of the Colorado 14ers and 600+ other Rocky Mountain peaks over 13,000 feet in these shoes. 

Thanks to robust, oversized toe caps, reinforced heels, aggressive lugs, and stout rock plates, the Raptor IIs handle sharp rocks and technical terrain with grace. The rounded, spaced lug patterns offer tacky traction on slick, steep rock and soft, grassy descents, effectively shedding mud and debris. The thick toe guards and large TPU overlays will keep your feet safe from roots, brambles, and sharp talus. The Raptor’s midsoles are a bit stiff, but this design makes for a very stable gait that lends you the confidence to tackle almost any terrain.

At 12.5 ounces per shoe, the Raptor IIs land in the middle of the pack for their weight. We found they are highly structured so they are best for – and exceptional during – outings that require off-trail exploration.

Like many La Sportiva shoes, this pair tends to run narrow and a bit small, including in the toe box, so we recommend going up by half a size. They are not waterproof (but there is a waterproof option), so they can take a while to dry out once wet. And, these shoes can feel hot on warm weather days so we recommend them for the high country.

If you’re looking for comfortable but slightly stiffer hiking shoes for peak-bagging, backpacking with a medium-to-light load on high alpine routes, or a protective off-trail hiking shoe with a smooth ground feel, the Ultra Raptors are made for you.

Stock photo of the Saucony Peregrine 14

Men’s Saucony Peregrine 14

Best lightweight trail runners for long distances

Price: $140

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 2.4 oz.

Options: Waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm

Pros

  • Excellent traction
  • Breathable mesh uppers
  • Lightweight
  • Less expensive
  • Flexible outsoles
  • Rock plate protects arches
  • No break-in period

Cons

  • Upper wears out quickly
  • Limited cushioning

From a trek through Nepal to Patagonia’s famous Torres del Paine, our team at CleverHiker has hiked thousands of miles in Saucony Peregrines. These shoes are grippy, stable, and some of the lightest footwear on this list. 

The Peregrine 14 is a big step forward from previous versions. At 4 mm, these shoes have a slightly higher stack height thanks to a bit of extra foam in the midsole. This additional cushioning offers a refined fit that makes them feel even more spry, flexible, and responsive than before.

They also feature a knit upper that breathes exceptionally well and dries quickly, so they’re a solid all-around option for almost any summer conditions, rain or shine, desert or mud. The sizing and fit are true-to-size and consistent. We like that the lacing and minimalist tongue allow the shoe to fully tighten around the foot from heel to toe, feeling secure and locked down underfoot.

This shoe also stands out for its knobby, triangular lug pattern. The chunky grip provides superior traction from sandy coastal trails to rocky alpine routes. We like the bit of extra cushioning that allows the Peregrine 14 to walk a fine line between agility – offering a great ground feel – and support – they are padded enough to keep your feet feeling fresh for hours.

However, these shoes aren’t built for durability. We regularly got around 400 – 500 miles out of these shoes, but they were in rough shape for the last 100 or so. The Peregrine 14 is a trail runner designed for fast, lightweight movement over long periods of time, so they don’t have hiking-specific features like a toe cap, dovetail heel, or reinforced uppers. The combination of mesh, TPU, and ultralight foams and rubbers means they won’t last as long as beefier shoes on this list like the La Sportiva Spire or the HOKA Anacapas.

That said, for $140 and weighing only 10.5 ounces per shoe, these classic Saucony trail runners are a great option. If you’re looking for lightweight, comfortable shoes for your next weekend backpacking trip, or footwear that can carry you across the continent, the Peregrine 14  is up to the task.

Men’s Altra Lone Peak 8

Best zero drop shoes for thru-hiking

Price: $140

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 5.4 oz

Options: Waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0 mm

Pros

  • Roomy toe box
  • Excellent traction
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible outsoles
  • Breathable uppers
  • Rock plate
  • No break-in needed
  • Built-in gaiter attachment

Cons

  • Not as durable as some
  • Zero drop doesn't work for everyone

If you love hiking and backpacking, chances are you’ve encountered one of the most popular pairs of long-distance hiking shoes of the decade, the Altra Lone Peak 8. These are zero-drop shoes that offer outstanding traction, a natural foot shape, and a ton of room in the toe box.

They are foot-shaped, so they’re snug and comfy through the midsole and heel, but very wide in the toebox. In fact, the toebox is one of the largest on this list and has a ton of room for your forefoot and toes to splay out naturally, which allows for a more ergonomic gait. The lacing system is sensitive and takes some careful tweaking at first, so you’ll need to tighten each section of the laces to get just the right tension for you.

Altra’s signature Trail Claw lug pattern offers a variety of square, triangular, and ribbed lugs across the outsole for ultra-tacky, super-effective traction in most trail conditions. The Lone Peak 8s also have great ground feel, allowing for better navigation of the trail with every step. Whether you’re traversing sandstone washes in the deserts of Arizona or hiking over tall mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada, the Lone Peaks will make your feet feel stable and secure.

This is one of our top picks for hot weather and trails that are wet, mucky, or overgrown. Since they’re so lightweight – only 11 ounces per shoe – and the uppers are almost entirely made of mesh, they dry in no time. The large Velcro gaiter attachment at the heel (gaiters sold separately) is perfect for keeping out brambles, dirt, and rocks. Plus, they are a great choice for hiking on hot days, since they’re so breathable and airy.

For many folks, zero-drop shoes promote a natural foot position, and can even help solve foot and leg pain. However, zero-drop shoes are not for everyone. Early studies show that for long-distance runners and hikers, going from a shoe with a tall heel-to-toe drop like the Merrell Moab (11.5 mm) to a zero-drop shoe (0 mm) like Altra Lone Peaks can increase the risk of injuries and strain on the joints. It takes time for our bodies to adjust to the higher loading rates and increased plantar pressures of zero-drop shoes through the calf, foot, and hips. We always recommend researching and testing if zero-drop shoes will work for your biomechanics.

That said, Altra hits the nail on the head when it comes to a wide toe box, burly traction, and a durable but lightweight build. The Lone Peak 7 is the reigning champion of the zero-drop world for good reason, and this pair could become your favorite too.

Stock image of Brooks Cascadia 17

Men’s Brooks Cascadia 17

Supportive & comfortable trail runners for long distances

Price: $140

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 5 oz.

Options: Waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

Pros

  • Cushioned heel and midsole
  • Versatile for road and trail running
  • Large heel tab
  • Flexible uppers
  • Less expensive

Cons

  • Laces get stiff over time
  • Mesh uppers blow out
  • Less ground feel than other trail runners

 The Brooks Cascadia 17s are versatile, breathable trail runners well-suited for covering huge mileage days on established trails. Our team at CleverHiker has tackled over 6,000 miles of America’s most scenic trails in these shoes, including thru-hikes of the PCT, CDT, the Pinhoti Trail, and more. Whether you’re a trail runner, day hiker, or long-distance backpacker, these are comfortable trail shoes that feel fast on backcountry routes.

Cascadia 17s are only 11 ounces per shoe. They’re one of the lightest trail runners on our list but still offer a refined balance of sturdiness and agility. The built-in gaiter trap is an excellent design feature, and we like that Brooks uses recycled materials in both the upper and outsole, reflecting an ongoing commitment to mindful manufacturing. 

These are first and foremost trail runners, so they aren’t designed for off-trail adventures. That means Cascadia 17s won’t last as long as hiking-specific shoes on this list like the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX or the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor. The upper is almost entirely mesh with thin TPU overlays, which means these shoes breathe well and dry fast. However, the side fabric at the flex point of the big toe tends to develop a hole after several hundred miles. We found this model typically lasts 500 – 600 miles before it needs replacing, but rougher terrain will reduce that distance.

At 8 mm, they also have double the heel-to-toe drop than the Saucony Peregrine 14s and the HOKA Speedgoats. That’s great if you love increased cushioning, but you’ll sacrifice a bit of ground feel and a more ergonomic gait.

We like the Cascadia 17s because they’re comfortable, dependable shoes with almost no break-in period. Whether you’re thru-hiking the North Country Trail or just romping around your local backcountry routes, these trail runners are tough to beat.

Men’s Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Good balance of flexibility & durability

Price: $160

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 11.4 oz.

Options: Non-waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 11 mm

Pros

  • Supportive sole
  • Outstanding traction
  • Breathable uppers
  • Waterproof
  • Stable outsoles

Cons

  • Quicklace system takes getting used to
  • Not as durable as some
  • Lace pocket is small

The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is an impressive hybrid of hiking shoe and trail runner. They strike a fine balance between the durability and heft of classic, burly hiking shoes thanks to features like a beefy toecap and great waterproofing, and the comfort, stability, and breathable upper of a trail runner.

Even though the X Ultra 4 is almost 14 ounces per shoe, they feel more spry and flexible than other models with a similar weight, like the HOKA Anacapas or the Merrell Moabs. This pair also doesn’t require a long break-in period. You can take these babies right out of the box and within 5-10 miles, they’ll feel great on your feet – the large heel tab, snug fit, and cinching quicklace system make them a breeze to put on.

They have an aggressive and technical lug pattern that offers stellar traction in most conditions. The intense, grippy outsoles feature two types of rubber that help them bite and hold onto the ground. The X Ultra 4s feel secure and strong on almost any terrain, making them a great choice for huge backpacking days with steep descents and ascents, or local strolls in wet or stormy conditions.

Our team has tested and loved every version of the X Ultras since they first arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, the most current version falls short compared to its predecessors. The fit is a bit narrow and the midsole is stiffer than we prefer. We found the lace pocket, located in the tongue of the shoe, is awkwardly placed and small for the long laces. And, Salomon’s unique quicklace system can take some getting used to, so be patient the first few times you’re tightening the pull-tab system.

The X Ultra 4 also includes a plastic support around the heel that can dig in under the ankle bone and cause discomfort. We also found that they are not as durable as prior iterations of the shoe, with the upper splitting from the outsole around 300 – 400 miles.

That said, all feet are different, and these are impressively waterproof, supportive, and comfortable shoes. Once the laces are tensioned and you’ve got some miles on these shoes, we think you’ll fall in love with them. We recommend giving them a try for a shoe that fits like a trail runner but lasts as long as a more traditional hiking shoe.

Men’s Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3

Best balance of weight, support & breathability

Price: $150

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 4.4 oz

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5 mm

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Excellent traction
  • Roomy toe box
  • Cushy soles
  • No break-in needed

Cons

  • Not as durable as burlier hiking shoes
  • Laces not top quality
  • Soft heel has less structure

The Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 is the perfect shoe for people that want a wide toe box, plenty of cushioning, and extremely light footwear. At just over 10 ounces per shoe, the Ultraventures are one of the lightest shoes we tested. They are super breathable with excellent cushioning through the heel and midsole. Thanks to flexible mesh uppers, your feet will stay cool with lots of airflow to wick away moisture in hotter weather. Plus, they dry quickly in case that puddle in the trail is deeper than expected. These shoes are soft and snug right out of the box.

We think of the Ultraventure as a combination of two of our other top lightweight shoes on this list: the HOKA Speedgoat 5 and the Altra Lone Peak 8. They offer tons of cushioning and thick foam soles like the Speedgoat 5 but are a bit less cushy and offer a better ground feel. This pair also has a roomy, wide toe box like the Lone Peak 8 so your toes can spread out and your forefoot can flex naturally, but without the zero-drop heel.

Despite the generous cushioning, the Ultraventure 3 is stable on most terrain. The slightly rockered outsole prevents foot fatigue and gives the shoe a spry feeling. Though the tread pattern on the shoes is a bit shallow compared to other shoes on this list, the wide, rectangular lugs offer plenty of traction when you need it. 

Though the Ultraventure 3s stand out for their low weight, they fall a bit short when it comes to durability. The all-mesh uppers and thinner soles make for a smooth hiking experience, but that means the lightweight construction doesn’t last quite as long as burlier hiking shoes. The shoes are also a big soft at the heel, so they’re more prone to fold and squish while putting on and taking off, breaking the material down over time.

Having said that, the Ultraventure 3 is an excellent choice for folks who want support, cushioning, and plenty of room for their toes to spread out from day hikes to thru-hikes.

Stock photo of Danner Trail 2650

Men’s Danner Trail 2650

Best for town to trail

Price: $170

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 8 oz.

Options: Waterproof, Lightweight

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

Pros

  • Fashionable
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Breathable
  • Thick toe and heel guard

Cons

  • Dries slowly once wet
  • Mesh upper not as durable
  • Laces are long

Whether you’re thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or need a stylish pair of shoes for work, the Danner Trail 2650s can do it all. Featuring brushed leather or suede, clean lines, and a pleasing aesthetic, we found the Trail 2650s are not just about looks: these shoes get it done on trail as well.

They offer excellent traction, a burly toe and heel guard for on-trail protection, and out-of-the-box comfort. They have a cushioned, responsive feel that makes them super comfy out of the box, but lend plenty of support and stability to backcountry adventures. Plus, the 2650s come in lightweight mesh, waterproof, and mid-height versions, so you can find the perfect shoe for your next hike, whether you’re wandering through Utah slot canyons or the rocky and lush Vermont Long Trail.

Also, the Trail 2650s are very pleasing to look at. We’d recommend them not only for style and functionality while hiking, but for trendy and functional footwear in the city. These are the rare shoes that can transition from a sit-down dinner or matinee at the movies to a backpacking trip or technical day hike.

The 2650s run narrow, so you may need to size up to a “wide” version. The chunky lug pattern offers great grip on rocks and roots, but it isn’t effective on wet or slippery surfaces. For $170, they are spendy, and the leather and mesh of the uppers are not especially durable – and take a long time to dry out once they’re wet. We also found that they look worn out sooner than they actually are. These shoes have a medium break-in period, so be sure to wear them out and about a few times before your first long walk in the woods. 

Overall, the Danner Trail 2650s are sleek, high-performance hiking shoes that blend modern style with the functionality and comfort of a lightweight trail runner. For hikers looking for a comfortable shoe that can take you from coffee shop to mountain top, consider this pair.

Men’s KEEN Targhee III WP

Reliable pair of waterproof hiking shoes

Price: $155

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 8 oz.

Options: Non-waterproof

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 12 mm

Pros

  • Excellent traction
  • Roomy toe box
  • Secure lacing system
  • Stable
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Heavier than some
  • Stiff soles
  • Longer break-in period

The KEEN Targhee III WPs are a crowd pleaser: these shoes are dependable, roomy and made to last. These all-leather hiking shoes demand a longer break-in time than many of the lightweight models on our list, but the pliable leather is reliable and durable, and the strong build quality means they’ll hold up for hundreds of miles in the backcountry. And, once they’re broken in, you’ll enjoy hundreds of miles of supportive, satisfying hiking.

They are also built for gnarly backcountry conditions. A protective toe cap extends completely over the top of the shoe to keep your toes safe from sharp rocks. Although the lugs are a bit shallow and wide compared to other leather shoes on this list, the multi-directional traction pattern and wide outsole still felt grippy and stable, making even the roughest trails feel smooth. Double-stitched leather panels run the length of the shoe along the outsole to add more stability and durability. 

One of our favorite features of the Targhee III is a sturdy band that connects the laces to the heel cup. This helps provide a secure, locked-in feeling and makes it easier to dial in the perfect fit. They are also known for their wide toe box, so they’re an excellent choice for hikers needing a little extra wiggle room in their shoes.

Because they’re on the bulkier side – and leather is not as breathable or fast-drying as synthetic uppers – we recommend them for shorter adventurers, cooler-weather days, and hikers who want something long-lasting and comfy for daily wear. The waterproofing is super effective, but that means the shoes can run hot on warmer days and in humid places, so you may want to reserve these for shoulder season hikes or wet, mucky trails.

We’re big fans of the Targhee III shoes. For hikers seeking roomy, comfortable, waterproof footwear with a precise fit that will last for multiple seasons, you won’t regret picking up a pair of these KEENs.

Men’s La Sportiva Spire GTX

Best shoe-boot hybrid

Price: $209

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 15 oz.

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6 mm

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Stable
  • Great traction

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavier than some
  • Stiff soles
  • Some break-in needed

The La Sportiva Spire GTX are seriously burly shoes that mix the stability, deep lugs, and waterproofing of a classic hiking boot with the comfort, breathability, and low profile of a trail runner. These are the perfect shoes if you love the feel of a hefty hiking boot but want a slightly more flexible and versatile waterproof option for shoulder season adventures or wet, muddy trail conditions.

The stiff midsole and aggressive Vibram outsoles are protective and grippy, and the quality build La Sportiva is known for ensures these puppies will last for hundreds of miles. But, these shoes will require a longer break-in period before they really shine. Once you’ve gotten through that initial break-in, the secure fit feels stable and comfortable.

The Spires also have an enormous heel-to-toe drop of 11 mm. That’s great if you love a ton of support and tall, burly shoes. However, if you like a lower profile or more natural foot flexion, these might not be a great fit.

When shoes are waterproof, they usually aren’t very breathable. The opposite is true with the Spires: the tongue is connected at the collar to block water during creek and puddle crossings, and the waterproof liner works like a charm. Our feet also stayed consistently dry on days up to 70 degrees thanks to effective ventilation that released sweat but also kept out snow, rain, and dew.

They weigh in at about one pound per shoe, which makes them one of the heaviest on this list. This is in large part due to the beefy outsole and thick synthetic upper – elements that inspire confidence off-trail and in gnarly mud or light snow, but make the shoes feel hot and heavy for summer hiking on groomed trails. That said, we found that despite their weight on paper, they didn’t feel much heavier on trail.

At just over $200, these shoes are one of the most expensive pairs of shoes on our list. However, they are well worth the price if you’re looking for a waterproof, sleek, and burly hiking shoe for day hikes, weekend adventures, and section hikes.

Stock photo of HOKA Anacapa 2 Low GTX

Men’s HOKA Anacapa 2 Low GTX

Grippy and durable hiking shoes

Price: $180

Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 14.6 oz.

Options: Lightweight

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

Pros

  • Grippy and sticky lug pattern
  • Comfortable midsole
  • Laces stay put once tied
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too wide for some

The HOKA Anacapa 2 Low GTX is a unique blend of comfort and durability, making these shoes an excellent choice for both day hikes and extensive backpacking trips. With a sole just stiff enough for steep ascents and a wider toe box to let your forefoot spread out, they feel comfortable and supportive on most terrain and trail conditions.

The uppers are more durable than many other models thanks to a combination of leather and suede on the sides, and the TPU toe cap adds a bit of extra protection. HOKA offers substantial traction on this model, with a chunky lug pattern that bites the ground for excellent grip on rocks and roots. Effective waterproofing and a rockered heel make them outstanding for daily use in a variety of trail conditions, whether you’re on the third day of a muddy route or tackling a local trail in wet conditions.

But, for $180, the Anacapa 2 is one of the most spendy pairs of shoes on this list. And at 14 ounces per shoe, this is also one of the heaviest models we reviewed. Because of their stiff sole, slightly long fit, and HOKA’s iconic extended dovetail heel, we found the Anacapa’s have a longer break-in period and might take a bit of time to get used to.

Though they are a bit more expensive and heavier, the HOKA Anacapa 2s offers top-tier comfort, stability, and durability. If you need a new go-to waterproof hiker with great support and protection for 3-season hiking, these are worth a closer look.

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

COMFORT & FIT

Comfort is subjective, especially when it comes to footwear – your all-time favorite hiking shoes might be someone else’s kryptonite. However, you should be on the lookout for models with enough room in the toe box, plenty of cushioning and support for your foot/arch shape, enough flexibility to keep your natural gait, and the right amount of protection for your toes and heels on rocky trails.

Best hiking shoes with a wide fit:

PRICE

Hiking shoes often don’t come cheap. However, we strongly recommend getting the most comfortable shoes that you can afford – we’ve been on one too many trips where blisters and foot pain have slowed us down. Inexpensive footwear can lack breathability, wear out quickly, and increase the risk of hotspots, pain, or even injury. In the long run, top-quality shoes will be more cost-effective than constantly replacing worn-out shoes. This carefully curated list of hiking shoes represents some of the highest-performing options on the market – and they’re worth every penny.

WEIGHT

Weight on your feet zaps about 5 times more energy than weight carried on your back. Lighter shoes mean less muscle fatigue, less stumbling, and they can help avoid knee and hip flexor problems. That’s not to say that heavier shoes are bad though. If you do a lot of hiking off-trail or you tend to carry a heavier pack, you’ll likely be more confident in a more burly and durable shoe.

DURABILITY & MATERIALS

Hiking shoes can be a big investment, so finding a durable pair will help you get the most bang for your buck. Traditional leather shoes are going to be more durable than lightweight trail runners. But if keeping weight low is important to you, look for a pair of lightweight shoes/trail runners with nylon reinforcements to get the best balance of weight and durability.

WATERPROOF VS NON-WATERPROOF

There are waterproof and non-waterproof versions of most shoes on this list. We recommend first finding the hiking shoe that fits your needs, then determining if you’ll need a waterproof or non-waterproof option.

Waterproof hiking shoes are best for mucky and wet trail conditions. We recommend Gore-Tex or other waterproof options during the shoulder seasons, where spring rain and early fall snow and melt can turn packed trails into slippery, muddy adventures. However, waterproof shoes fall short on warm days, when they’ll feel hot and sweaty due to a lack of breathability. Also, they can be very slow to dry if they get wet.

Non-waterproof hiking shoes are best for drier conditions, multi-day trips, and thru-hikes. Thanks to mesh uppers, they are breathable and lighter, so they dry faster and keep your feet cool – perfect for sunny summer days. Even though non-waterproof shoes tend to soak through if they get wet, they dry much faster. That’s why many backpackers – and our team at CleverHiker – are  big fans of non-waterproof shoes for hiking from June to September.

Critical Footwear Considerations

BOOTS VS. SHOES VS. TRAIL RUNNERS

Which one to choose? The real answer is it depends, but we most often recommend lightweight synthetic trail runners, and our team has hiked tens of thousands of miles in them. Trail runners are more breathable than heavier traditional leather shoes, and feel much more comfortable over long distances.Having said that, classic hiking shoes are usually made with leather or a synthetic / leather hybrid, are often waterproof, more durable, and last longer. They’re ideally suited for off-trail exploration and sloppy trail conditions like rain or snow. However, they’ll be heavier and bulkier, so we recommend classic hiking shoes or high-top boots for shorter distances or hiking in spring and fall conditions. Check out this article to find the right fit for you.

ALTRA LONE PEAKS– PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)
Keen Targhee III WP– PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

SIZING

In general, we recommend purchasing hiking footwear at least half a size bigger than your normal shoes, especially if you’re between sizes or at the edge of one size. During long hikes, feet tend to swell. The bit of extra wiggle room for your toes and forefoot can make all the difference for comfort and peace of mind when there are still miles to cover.

An easy way to measure if your footwear has enough room? The finger test. Simply loosen the laces of your boot, shoe, or trail runner, place your foot in the shoe so your toes are against the tip of the toe box, and stick your index finger between your heel and back of the shoe. Your finger should slide in easily. If there’s enough room, you’ll know your toes won’t jam against the front of the shoe during steep descents and long downhills, so you’ll avoid hot spots, pain, and nail damage.

Other elements can affect the way your shoes fit. Keep in mind what socks you’ll be wearing on trail and if they’ll take up additional space – we advise wearing the socks you plan to hike in when trying on shoes to ensure you get the right size. And, if you’ll be adding aftermarket insoles, accounting for a bit of extra room in the shoe will be helpful.

BREAK-IN PERIOD

While some of the shoes on this list are instantly comfortable out of the box, most footwear will require a break-in period. We recommend purchasing the boots, shoes, or trail runners you plan to take backpacking or hiking and wearing them every chance you get. By making them your go-to footwear for every grocery store run, dog walk, or local hike, your shoes will have time to soften and adapt to your foot, and you’ll avoid blisters or hot spots on your long hike. You’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with your new kicks and address any issues before you’re miles deep in the backcountry.

Saucony Peregrines– PHOTO CREDIT: DAVE COLLINS (CLEVERHIKER.COM)
Oboz Firebrand II BDry– PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

TRACTION

From steep, sandy ascents and slick creek crossings to hard-packed trails and jagged, rocky alpine routes, the grip pattern on your shoes matters a lot when hiking and backpacking. Your footwear should offer a reliable grip on the majority of surfaces, and bite the ground when you need it most – no matter what conditions you’re in. Traction, lug pattern, and grip were heavily factored into all of the footwear recommendations on this list.

MANAGING MOISTURE & BLISTERS

At some point when hiking, your feet are going to get wet regardless of what shoes or boots you’re wearing – waterproof or not. Whether you trudge through a rainstorm, slip while fording a stream, or step in a puddle deeper than expected, wet feet are a real problem while hiking. Wet conditions can quickly lead to hot spots and blisters, but a healthy foot care routine can prevent most of the damage. Check out our guide to How to Prevent and Treat Blisters for our top tips on how to manage moisture and blisters.

WATERPROOFING TREATMENTS

We’re big fans of waterproof hiking shoes for soggy days when we know we’ll encounter mud, snow, and rain. Unfortunately, “waterproof” doesn’t mean water will never find its way into your shoes – because it probably still will. Whether you’re hiking in a torrential downpour or dealing with light rain, water can drip down your legs and into your shoes. Even a misstep could easily soak your ankles. Remember that waterproof treatments wear off over time, so you’ll need to reapply a treatment to keep your shoes in tip-top shape. Luckily, this process is fast, easy, and (mostly) painless.

Smartwool Performance Hike Light socks– PHOTO CREDIT: DAVE COLLINS (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

SOCKS

Our team has collectively hiked tens of thousands of miles and learned the hard way that quality socks are as essential as top-quality shoes. In fact, they are vital for the health of your feet and your overall well-being on trail. The ideal hiking socks are comfy, durable, fit well, wick moisture away from your skin, and dry quickly. Take a look at our guide to the Best Hiking Socks.

INSOLES

Aftermarket insoles can help prevent foot fatigue. Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and shin splints can benefit from the extra stability, but we also recommend them for anyone who needs additional cushioning and arch support. Insoles can be a cure-all solution for rigid shoes or pairs that have little support. They can also help take up a bit more space to achieve that customized fit for folks who are between sizes or want a tighter fit.

Keen Targhee III WP– PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)
PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)