Best Dog Boots & Shoes for Hiking
Dog boots are a great way to protect your pup’s paws from hot surfaces, abrasive terrain, and the uncomfortable buildup of ice and sand. It’s a good idea to bring some paw protection with you when your four-legged friends join on rugged trails and long adventures, so they can tackle the trail in comfort and with confidence.
There are lots of dog boots on the market to choose from, and it can be difficult to pick the right ones since your dog can’t explain what it needs. We’ve field tested the best dog boots out there to help you nail down the perfect fit for your pooch.
Does My Dog Really Need Boots?
Dog boots aren’t a necessary gear item, but they do protect your dog’s paws from extreme temperatures, abrasive terrain, and the build-up of blister-causing debris like sand and ice. If there’s ice, the ground is too hot to touch with the back of your hand for seven seconds, or the trail is sandy or snowy, it’s a good idea to put them on. We use them around town in the summer and bring them with us on backpacking trips where we know we’ll hike over some really rugged trail, like in volcanic areas.
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 dog boots overall for traction, durability & fit: Kurgo Blaze Cross
- Best budget dog boots: Expawlorer Waterproof
- Durable dog boots made with high-quality materials: Ruffwear Grip Trex
- Best boot alternative: Musher’s Secret Wax
- Lightweight & affordable dog boots:Non-Stop Dogwear Long Distance Bootie
What’s Most Important to You in a Set of Dog Boots?
PRICE – You don’t need to break the bank to get a great set of boots for your dog, but we find that it’s often worth spending a little more for added durability, better traction, and a more secure fit.
WEIGHT – Any extra weight on your dog’s paws will cause them to expend more energy when walking. Most dog boots are pretty lightweight, but it’s better to go as light as possible if your dog has health concerns, like joint pain.
EASE OF USE – If you’ve got a squirmy dog, getting their boots on and off can be a real challenge. We look for boots with a wide opening and some stretch in the cuff to ensure the application and removal process is as quick and easy as possible.
FIT – Make sure to measure your dog’s feet before purchasing a set of boots for them. Most boots are sized by paw width (measured across the widest part of the paw), and some will also include length measurements. After you’ve measured, consult the manufacturer’s size chart to determine the correct size for your dog. We find that dog boots with two velcro closures at the cuff, as opposed to one, tend to stay in place the best on the trail.
Best Dog Boots & Shoes for Hiking
BEST DOG BOOTS OVERALL FOR TRACTION, DURABILITY & FIT
MSRP: $70 (often on sale for much less)
WEIGHT (4 BOOTS): 7.5 oz.
FITS PAW WIDTH: 2-3.25 in.
PROS: Excellent value, secure fit, excellent traction, breathable cuff
CONS: Requires more break-in, high cuff can interfere with dewclaws, heavier than others
BOTTOM LINE: With a highly varied lug pattern on the outsole and a cuff that comes up higher than others, the beefy Kurgo Blaze Cross boots are our favorites for technical terrain. These boots are ultra-grippy and they won’t slide off your dog’s feet as they navigate challenging trails. That said, the higher cuff can take a little more time for dogs to get used to, so they may need a bit of extra practice in these boots around the house before heading out on an adventure. The Kurgo Blaze Cross boots are an excellent value for the money, since you’re getting a set of durable technical shoes with traction designed similarly to the best hiking shoes for humans.
BEST BUDGET DOG BOOTS
WEIGHT (4 BOOTS): 4.8 oz.
FITS PAW WIDTH: 1.65 – 3.03 in.
PROS: Affordable, easy on/off, secure fit, very little break-in required, waterproof
CONS: Traction isn’t as good others, not as durable, not as breathable
BOTTOM LINE: The affordable Expawlorer Waterproof Dog Boots are a great first set to get for dogs who are shy about wearing boots. They have a large opening that makes them easy to put on and take off, and the two velcro straps at the cuff provide a really secure fit that keeps them from rotating or falling off. The Expawlorers are also the softest boots out of the box, so they’ll require virtually no break-in before they’re trail ready. That said, we found the traction on these boots to be a little lacking on smooth rock, so we’d only recommend them for mild terrain or for paw protection on hot pavement. If you’re after something affordable and simple to get your dog used to wearing boots, the Expawlorers are hard to beat.
DURABLE DOG BOOTS MADE WITH HIGH-QUALITY MATERIALS
MSRP: $40 (2 boots only)
WEIGHT (2 LARGEST SIZE BOOTS): 3.8 oz.
FITS PAW WIDTH:: 1.5-3.5 in.
PROS: Available in sets of two for dogs with different size front and back paws, high-quality materials, excellent traction, durable, breathable
CONS: Expensive, fit isn’t as secure as some, requires longer break-in
BOTTOM LINE: Boasting premium Vibram outsoles (the same stuff used on many hiking shoes for humans), the Ruffwear Grip Trex are durable boots with excellent traction. It’s pretty common for dogs to have different size front and back paws, so we love that the Grip Trex are offered in sets of two to ensure a perfect fit. When you first receive your Grip Trex, you’ll notice they’re a little stiff. These boots will require some breaking-in for maximum comfort, but it’s easy to do at home by massaging them with your hand for about five minutes. While the price for the Grip Trex is a little steep, we find that they’re worth the cost if you want your dog to have a long-lasting set of boots made with the best materials available.
BEST BOOT ALTERNATIVE
WEIGHT (60g TUB): 2.9 oz.
FITS PAW WIDTH: N/A
PROS: Affordable; breathable; protection from hot surfaces, ice, and sand without having to cover the dog’s foot, easy to apply
CONS: Not as protective as boots, difficult to determine when you need to reapply, doesn’t help with traction
BOTTOM LINE: Musher’s Secret Wax conditions your dog’s paws so they can effortlessly trod over hot surfaces, sand, ice salt, and snow without blister-causing debris building up. It’s an excellent solution for dogs who refuse to wear boots or for those who don’t expect to take their dog on challenging terrain that would warrant boots. We use Musher’s Wax for walks around town in summer when the pavement tends to be hot and for winter hikes when we want to protect our dog’s feet from snowballing. It won’t help with traction or protect against rocks, so it isn’t a great replacement for boots on tricky terrain. But if all you need is a quick and easy solution for protecting against the elements, Musher’s Wax is the way to go.
LIGHTWEIGHT & AFFORDABLE DOG BOOTS
WEIGHT (4 BOOTS): 1.1 oz.
FITS PAW WIDTH: 1-3.9 in.
PROS: Lightweight, compact, affordable, breathable, comfortable, easy on/off, no break-in required
CONS: Not as durable as some
BOTTOM LINE: The Long Distance Bootie is the type of dog boot you’ll find professional dog mushers using on snow in races like the Iditarod. They’re simple but effective at keeping snow from accumulating between dogs’ toes. And dogs don’t seem to mind them since they’re so minimal, comfortable, and easy to put on. We also love that these booties are ultralight and compact so we can pack them in case we need paw protection without even noticing them in our backpack. The Long Distance Bootie is best for snow and will get worn out faster while hiking or running on rougher surfaces. The Solid Sock is made of a stronger Cordura material and is better adapted to handle dryland or gravel surfaces.
Critical Dog Boot Considerations
BREAKING IN NEW DOG BOOTS – Your dog’s boots will likely be a little stiff when you first get them, so you should mold each one in your hands for about five minutes to soften them up before putting them on your dog.Once you’ve got them softened, watch your dog’s feet for any pressure points or rubbing spots. If you notice any discomfort, remove the boots right away and squish them around for a bit longer. You could also consider adding boot liners to protect your dog from blisters.
CONDITIONING– Before your dog dons their new boots on the trail, get them used to wearing them at home first. Let them sniff the boots, then try putting the boots on while offering lots of treats and encouragement to create a positive association with the process. Have your dog wear the boots for a few minutes a day, slowly increasing the amount of time until they’re comfortable. Your dog will likely walk or stand a little funny when you first put their new shoes on and it’s totally normal. They’ll soon forget about them when they’re out having fun and seeing the sights with you.
TIPS FOR HIKING WITH A DOG – Taking your dog on a hike is a great way to get them some exercise and bonding time. Make sure the experience is safe and fun for both of you by reviewing our Tips for Hiking with a Dog post.
Need More Gear Advice?
If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
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Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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