The Best Hiking Shoes

Choosing a great pair of hiking shoes is one of the most important gear choices you’ll make. Every step along the journey will be made easier with a pair that has the proper balance of comfort, traction, weight, and durability.

Hiking shoes are a seasonal purchase for many, but our crew has put in the time and effort to test, and trail these products to provide you with a list of the best hiking shoes available.

Choosing a great pair of hiking shoes is one of the most important gear choices you’ll make. Every step along the journey will be made easier with a pair that has the proper balance of comfort, traction, weight, and durability.

Hiking shoes are a seasonal purchase for many, but our crew has put in the time and effort to test, and trail these products to provide you with a list of the best hiking shoes available.

Quick Recommendations

If you’re in a hurry, check out this short list of our favorites, or keep reading to see our complete list with detailed evaluations.

  • Best waterproof hiking shoes overall for comfort, traction & durability: Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX
  • Best non-waterproof hiking shoes overall for traction, low weight & comfort: Saucony Peregrine 12
  • Best lightweight hiking shoes with ample cushioning: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 
  • Lightweight hiking shoes with a natural shape: Altra Lone Peak 6
  • Best budget shoes for day hiking: Merrell Moab 2 WP Low 
  • Lightweight & breathable waterproof hiking shoes: Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX 
  • Rugged & durable waterproof hiking shoes: La Sportiva Spire GTX
  • Excellent value hiking shoes for day hikers: Keen Targhee III Low WP
  • Grippy hiking shoes that work particularly well in wet climates: Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX 
  • Durable & supportive hiking shoes for traditional backpackers: Oboz Firebrand II BDry 

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

FIT AND COMFORT

Every individual has different requirements for fit and comfort, so what works well for one person may not be the greatest option for another. The most comfortable shoes should have some give in the top so it bends with your foot, provide cushioning that supports your foot shape, and allow your toes to spread.

PRICE

We are willing to spend more for high-quality shoes because we truly believe that the success of our adventures depends on having comfy, healthy feet. Comfort and fit usually take precedence over price in our opinion, but we provide quality choices at a range of prices in our best picks below.

WEIGHT

The weight of your shoes depletes around 5 times more energy than the weight you carry on your back. Shoes that are lighter can help you avoid problems with your knees and hips flexors. Not every type of shoe is appropriate for everyone, although there are some guidelines. That said, not all heavier footwear is undesirable. If you spend a lot of time off-trail or prefer to carry a heavier backpack, a more robust and lasting pair of shoes may make you feel better prepared.

DURATION & MATERIALS

Hiking shoes are a significant investment, so finding a long-lasting pair will save you money. Leather shoes will almost always be more durable than light trail runners. However, if maintaining a low weight is critical to you, search for a pair of trail running shoes that includes nylon reinforcements for the best balance of weight and durability.

WATERPROOF VS NON-WATERPROOF

Waterproof shoes can be a real lifesaver if you often hike in wet, muddy areas. We like using them for soggy day hikes in spring and fall. On the other hand, waterproof shoes aren’t very breathable on hot days, and they can be heavy and slow to dry when they get wet. Non-waterproof shoes are lighter and more breathable, and though they’re susceptible to getting wet, they dry fairly quickly.

Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX Hiking Shoe is a great choice for those who want a shoe that is lightweight and durable. The out-of-the-box comfort is amazing, and the traction is well above average. The fit is similar to that of a trail runner, making them extremely comfortable to hike in.

These shoes are great for hiking on mountain trails. They’re quite a lot more stiff on the sides than the ultra 3 style, so if you’re looking for some serious support for your feet then these are the shoes you are looking for.

If you’re considering getting a pair of these shoes, I would definitely follow the size guideline displayed on the Salomon website. Do so, and you won’t be disappointed!

Pros
  • Out of the box convenience
  • Light weight with high strength and support
  • Stable, excellent traction
  • Secure fit
Cons
  • Quicklace takes some getting used to

Saucony Peregrine 12

What makes the Peregrines stand out so much is their exceptional traction. They have great cushion and stability – perfect for trail running.

I would recommend them to anyone looking for a good trail shoe. Be aware though that the fitting is quite tight. The newest iteration of the Peregrines features the same sock-like comfort and durability as the previous model, but it’s an ounce lighter.

The Peregrine 12s are our top pick for demanding hikes where reliable traction is key.

Pros
  • Excellent traction
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Secure fit
  • Rock plate (increased protection and durability in sole),
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not as durable as traditional hiking shoes

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 is a great choice for lightweight hiking shoes with ample cushioning. They are very comfortable and supportive, with an excellent traction.

The most standout feature of the Speedgoats is their ultra-cushy midsole which is excellent at absorbing impact. For this reason, the Speedgoats are a favorite amongst thru-hikers who need a shoe that’s lightweight and can keep their feet and joints comfortable while logging lots of miles. However, because these shoes are built more for trail running, They’re not going to hold up quite as long as some of the traditional hiking shoes in the long run.

Despite the slight hit to durability, the Speedgoats are our go-to for long days on the trail when comfort is most important.

Pros
  • They are Comfortable
  • Very cushy soles
  • Excellent traction and are supportive.
  • They also have a roomy toe box, which is great for people with narrow feet
Cons
  • They are not as protective as some other shoes and not as durable as traditional hiking shoes
  • They also may not be the best choice for people with wide feet

Altra Lone Peak 6

Altra’s Lone Peak 6 shoes are a great choice for anyone looking for a comfortable, ultralight hiking shoe. The roomy toe box and excellent traction make them ideal for hikes of any distance, while the built-in gaiter attachment and breathable design keep your feet comfortable even when the weather gets warm.

Although they’re not as durable as traditional hiking shoes, the Lone Peak 6s are a great choice for anyone looking for a lightweight, comfortable shoe that can handle any terrain.

Pros
  • Roomy toe box
  • Excellent traction
  • Lightweight design
  • Comfortable fit
  • The built-in gaiter attachment is also a great feature
Cons
  • Not as durable as traditional hiking shoes

Merrell Moab 2 Low WP

The Merrell Moab 2 Low WP Hiking Shoe is a comfortable, rugged and stylish shoe that is perfect for any outdoor activity. With a waterproof and breathable design, this shoe will keep your feet dry and comfortable no matter what the weather conditions are. TheMoab 2 also features a durable sole that can withstand any terrain, making it perfect for hiking, walking or even just casual wear. If you are looking for a shoe that can do it all, then the Merrell Moab 2 Low WP Hiking Shoe is the perfect choice for you.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stylish design
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Durable sole perfect for any terrain
Cons
  • Heavy, high heel-to-toe drop, wide fit isn’t for everyone

Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX

The Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX hiking shoes are designed for fast and light trail adventures. They are made with a synthetic microfiber and abrasion resistant mesh upper, and feature a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane to block moisture. The shoes also have a dual density compression molded enduralast EVA midsole for cushioning and support. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors, and are true to size. The only downside of these shoes is that they are not as durable as some other models on the market. However, they are still a great choice for lightweight comfort and breathability in a waterproof shoe.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Secure lacing
  • Cushioned soles
  • Supportive
Cons
  • Not as durable as some other shoes

La Sportiva Spire GTX

The La Sportiva Spire GTX hiking shoes are a great choice for those looking for the best balance of support, durability, and breathability. The stiff outers and aggressive Vibram outsoles are protective and grippy for the most rugged of terrain, and the quality build ensures these bad boys will last for many adventures.

While the Spires are a little heavier than many other shoes on our list, we find these shoes to be surprisingly light for how much confidence they provide on the trail. The Nano Cell 2.0 Technology works with Gore-Tex Surround aeration channels within the footbed and midsole to keep your feet comfortable and dry, while the STB control system integrates Gore-Tex Surround ventilation outlets to provide a snug and stable fit.

Whether you’re looking for a boot to handle the most rugged terrain or a shoe to provide support and comfort on long hikes, the Spire GTX is an excellent choice.

Pros
  • Stiff outers and aggressive Vibram outsoles are protective and grippy
  • Quality build ensures these bad boys will last
  • Surprisingly light for how much confidence they provide on the trail
  • Nano Cell 2.0 Technology works with Gore-Tex Surround aeration channels to keep your feet comfortable and dry
  • STB control system integrates Gore-Tex Surround ventilation outlets to provide a snug and stable fit
Cons
  • A little heavier than many other shoes on our list
  • The price tag may be off-putting for some

Keen Targhee III Low WP

The Keen Targhee III Low WP Hiking Shoes are a great choice for anyone looking for a shoe that will provide good traction and support on uneven surfaces. The ESS shank provides excellent support on rocky surfaces, and the 4mm multi-directional lugs give good grip in muddy conditions. The TPU heel-capture system provides next-level stability, and the low-profile upper is comfortable and secure. The removable, Metatomical dual-density EVA footbed provides excellent arch support and cradles to the natural contours of the foot.

Pros
  • Excellent traction and support on uneven surfaces
  • Good arch support
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • Removable, Metatomical dual-density EVA footbed
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Stiff

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8

The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX are a great choice for hikers looking for a shoe that will provide support and stability on tricky terrain. These shoes are also lighter than many traditional hiking shoes, making them more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Additionally, the Contagrip traction and GoreTex membrane make the XA Pro 3D V8 GTX perfect for wet and rugged climates. Overall, the Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX are a great choice for hikers looking for a durable and comfortable shoe.

Pros
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Stable and supportive
  • Contagrip traction for wet and rugged terrain
  • GoreTex membrane for waterproofing
Cons
  • Quicklace takes some getting used to
  • May require a break-in period

Oboz Firebrand II BDry

The Oboz Firebrand II BDry Hiking Shoes are some of the most supportive and durable shoes on the market, perfect for traditional backpackers who tend to carry heavier loads. The molded arch and heel cup, secure lacing system, and exceptional traction make this shoe a great choice for challenging terrain. The only downside is that they may require a longer break-in period than some other shoes, but once you get past that they will be incredibly comfortable and last for years.

Pros
  • Supportive
  • Durable
  • Secure lacing
  • Excellent traction
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Stiff soles
  • Will require longer break-in

Crucial considerations for footwear

1. SIZING

Feet can swell during long days on the trail, so buy hiking boots a half size larger than your normal shoes. Laces should be adjusted to fit the sock. 

The best way to test sizing is to loosen all of the laces, situate your foot so that your toes touch the front of the toe box, and then make sure you can put your index finger between your heel and the back of the shoe.

On downhills, avoid letting your toes slip forward and strike the toe box. When picking a size, think about which socks you’ll wear and whether or not you’ll need aftermarket insoles. It’s considerably better for shoes to be slightly too big than too small.

2. FIRST-TIME SHOES

New shoes need to be broken in before you can wear them for extended periods of time. We recommend purchasing your boots at least a few weeks before lengthy hiking excursions and spending as much time in them as possible. This will help your new shoes to soften up, allowing you to ensure that they are comfy for your feet. If you detect an issue, it’s far simpler to address it before heading into the woods.

3. TRACTION

Traction is one of the most important aspects of backpacking and hiking footwear. Expect to trek across a variety of terrain, including narrow and rocky ridgelines, slippery water crossings, and loose scree fields. Knowing that your shoes will keep you from slipping is critical, especially on washed-out or exposed parts of the trail. All of our footwear suggestions were informed by quality traction.

4. WATERPROOFING TREATMENTS

Waterproof footwear is ideal for soggy day hikes, but it’s vital to keep in mind that “waterproof” doesn’t imply water can never get inside. During a prolonged downpour, water always finds a way in, and light rain can run down your legs and into your shoes. Keep in mind that waterproof treatments are only temporary. You’ll eventually need to reapply a treatment to keep your shoes sealed.

5. SOCKS

We’ve found that wearing quality socks makes a big difference in how long we can keep our feet happy and in good shape on trail. Hiking socks should be soft, comfortable, and constructed of materials that remove moisture from your skin.

6. INSOLES

Aftermarket insoles can provide relief from a variety of trail-related issues. If you have plantar fasciitis or require more cushioning and support in an otherwise stiff shoe, replace the insoles. Insoles can also help take up a little extra space in footwear for a customized fit if you’re between sizes.

More Information

If you found this guide helpful, please give it a share on social media! Also, be sure to check out our CleverHiker Gear Guide to see all of our top gear picks.

Thanks for reading and happy trails!

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