The best hiking boots

These hiking boots will keep you surefooted even on the gnarliest of hikes

With summer sun completely melting what’s left of winter snow, leaving those once white peaks naked and rocky, it’s time to start thinking about trading in those heavy-duty insulated boots for lighter weight day hikers. It’s an entirely different world trudging along on rugged earth as opposed to deep snow and requires a different quiver of footwear.

So, whether you’re embarking on a day hike or setting out on a weeklong expedition through the backcountry, your feet are key to a comfortable endeavor. You cannot place enough importance on the footwear that separates you from rugged, muddy, and often wet terrain. To tackle the toughest geography and reach the highest summits, you need to have the right boots. Thanks to new fabric and sole technologies, today’s best hiking boots keep you comfortable and moving confidently mile after mile.

The day hiker

It doesn’t matter if you’re covering two miles or 12, a proper set of day-hiking boots allows you to worry less about that impending blister and more about your surroundings.

Scarpa R-Evolution GTX — $240

The best boots for the day hiker (men)

Scarpa is known for its production of alpine shoes, and you can find a very trusty hiking companion in the R-Evolution GTX. The boots boast a lightweight and high-end support featuring Scarpa’s Sock-Fit DV construction. The product also utilizes stretchy Schoeller fabric and memory foam in the tongue to ensure the utmost comfort. A Gore-Tex membrane provides waterproof, breathable performance, leaving you nothing to complain about.

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Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX — $165

The best boots for the day hiker (women)

Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX

The Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is the perfect day-hiker for women based entirely on its all-around comfort, short break-in time, and feather weight. The leather upper features Gore-Tex which provides complete waterproof protection. Salomon designed the boot to be specifically contoured for a women’s foot, featuring a soft polyester lining that easily wicks away moisture. Extra padding is provided by EVA midsoles and OrthoLite sock liners. These shoes don’t skimp on the details, either as they include mudguards and integrated rubber toe caps for tackling challenging trail obstacles. Contagrip rubber outsoles ensure you won’t miss a step on your journey.

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The long-distance backpacker

When your trek takes you further than you’ve gone before, you need boots that stay comfortable and remain efficient for days on end.

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX — $250

The best for the long-distance backpacker (men)

Scarpa brings another quality shoe onto the hiking scene with the Zodiac Plus GTX, this one built more robustly than its R-Evolution GTX companion. These boots are ideal for when you leave the maintained trail behind and head out into the wilderness. A waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex membrane keeps your toes dry during creek crossings and through rain storms. Softer than a mountaineering boot but rigid enough to handle rugged terrain with a heavy load, the Zodiac Plus is ideal for any long-distance backpacking expedition. Scarpa’s trademark Sock-Fit construction also makes for added comfort.

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Vasque Saga GTX — $230

The best for the long-distance backpacker (women)

Vasque Saga GTX

New for 2018, the Saga GTX is designed for fast-moving treks across challenging terrain. These backpacking boots provide the perfect balance between weight and stability. The Saga GTX features a dual density ATC midsole and unique molded ventilation ports that allow for hiking in all types of weather. Gore-Tex ensures complete waterproof protection while the Vibram Megagrip rubber sole provides for unprecedented traction — great for even the most rugged terrain. Weighing in at just over two pounds, the new Saga GTX is a huge win for Vasque.

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The budget conscious

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your hands on a quality pair of hiking boots. Do your research and you can find quality brands offering products with everything you need in a cost-effective package.

Keen Targhee II — $135

The best for the budget conscious (men)

The Keen Targhee II has long been a favorite among hikers and truly packs a lot of value into its small price tag. Sturdy lugs provide excellent grip on uneven terrain and a waterproof, breathable eVent insert keeps your toes dry. The mid-cut height serves for decent ankle support but these boots are definitely much stiffer than others, featuring a torsion stability ESS shank and a dual density compression molded midsole so you never miss a step.

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Vasque Monolith Ultradry — $130

The best for the budget conscious (women)

An outstanding choice for the moderate hiker, it’s amazing how cheap Vasque offers its Monolith Ultradry boots. This lightweight shoe has a ton of desirable features, including Vasque’s proprietary UltraDry membrane, a TPU midfoot stabilizer, and molded EVA midsole. The aggressive tread pattern helps you maintain your balance even across slippery, unstable terrain. If you’re low on cash and need a pair of quality hiking shoes, you won’t get better value than these.

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Day-hiking shoes

For those who prefer hiking with a low cut, light weight boot, manufacturers have moved toward developing high-end shoes capable of handling rugged terrain just as well as their bulkier comrades.

Merrell Moab 2 — $120

The best day-hiking shoes (men)

This popular shoe has been enhanced for added comfort, with more cushioning added to the footbed. The suede leather and mesh material are complemented by rubber toe caps so you don’t have to worry about trail obstacles getting in your way. The shoe’s contoured footbed forms to your foot and provides plenty of arch support while an air cushion in the heel absorbs shock. The grippy, Vibram outsoles round out this impressive boot, making it so you’ll never want to switch back to your bulkier hiking models.

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The North Face Hedgehog — $120

The best day-hiking shoes (women)

These lightweight, waterproof hiking shoes feature a Gore-Tex membrane for protection from the elements. A well-designed combination of leather and mesh make for stability and durability, while dual-density compression molded EVA midsoles attribute to plenty of heel-cradling comforts. You’re able to cover serious ground in these shoes as they are often favored for fastpacking. Vibram outsoles provide enough grip for slogging through mud or ascending a slippery slope.

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The North Face

The trail runner

When you want to move at a faster pace but prefer to ditch the asphalt and hit the trails, there are plenty of top-notch trail running shoes on the market.

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX — $120

The best shoes for the trail runner (men)

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX will take you blazing down uneven, slippery trails, featuring a SnakePlate under the ball of the foot and heavy duty UltraTac rubber soles. You won’t have to fear changing weather conditions in these shoes, constructed with a Gore-Tex breathable, waterproof membrane. Stability and durability are provided by a compression molded EVA midsole, ESS midfoot shank, and hardy mesh upper materials.

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The La Sportiva Wildcat — $110

The best shoes for the trail runner (women)

La Sportiva has been a leading footwear brand for decades — and the Wildcat is a favorite among trail runners. The outsole has been meticulously crafted to navigate varied, unstable terrain, featuring a Frixion AT sole with an impact brake system and X-Axis. Vented AirMesh provides for unsurpassed breathability, making it an ideal shoe for warmer seasons. The Wildcat is also La Sportiva’s most cushioned shoe, with a nylon molded flex transfer shank and a layer of LaSpEVA so that you stay comfortable however far you travel. 

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