Hiking shoes are one of the best pieces of gear you can bring on any hike. They provide more support and durability than regular runners. We extensively reviewed the nine best hiking shoes on the market and will present them here in this review.
In terms of waterproofing, grip, traction, and lightweight function, we found the Arcteryx Aerios FL Mid GTX Hiking Shoes to be the best all-around. Read on to find the best hiking shoes for every outdoor occasion.
The Top Hiking Shoes Reviewed
Best All-Around Hiking Shoes
Our best all-around shoe provides unparalleled weather and debris protection. The Arcteryx Aerios FL Mid GTX Hiking Shoes are a perfect choice for adventurous hikers. The GORE-TEX waterproof membrane will keep feet protected (even in a downpour).
The grip of the Vibram outsole is suitable for tackling varied terrain as it provides added traction. Customers raved about these hiking shoes keeping their feet light, comfortable & stable. The sleek black design looks suitable for casual use as well as on the trail.
- The tall collar keeps out debris
- High-quality construction
- Lightweight & waterproof
Best Runner Up Hiking Shoes
For hikers that frequently encounter muddy or slushy terrain, the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes will have you prepared. The outsole is made of two types of rubber, including high traction Contragrip. Salomon designed the specially patterned heel to grab terrain aggressively.
For added stability, there is an advanced chassis embedded in the shoe. The injected EVA midsole gives your feet a comfy, cushioned feel. The GORE-TEX Performance membrane keeps things dry inside and out.
- Five eyelets provide better heel lock.
- Timesaving Quicklace system
- Outsole specially designed for maximum traction
- Below average breathability
Best Affordable Hiking Shoes
If you’re looking for a sleek, flexible, and affordable hiking shoe, look no further than the Salomon OUTline Hiking Shoes. The sneaker-like bootie construction makes them versatile enough for both off-road and daily use.
The Sensifit uppers provide a snug fit, moulding to the shape of your foot over time. The EVA midsoles also provide cushion without being too bouncy. One unique feature of these shoes is the Contragrip outsoles with 5 mm lugs to tear through dirt, mud, and debris.
- Versatile sneaker-like design
- Precise forefoot design for running uphill
- 5 mm lugs provide traction on uneven terrain
- Narrow width
Best Heavy Duty Hiking Shoes
One of the lightest backpacking boots on the market is the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boots. If you’re an avid hiker, you know how inconvenient traveling with heavy boots can be.
They’re also very comfortable thanks to the Ortholite and EVA molded footbed. The advanced 4D Chassis fights fatigue during long-distance hikes. Like other Salomon models, this one features a GORE-TEX membrane designed for rainy weather.
Overall, this rugged boot provides fantastic ankle support. It’s ultralight and excellent for long hikes. Though it may be pricy, it will last for many years.
- Attractive design and colour scheme
- Excellent ankle support from full boot design
- 4D chassis for extra support
- Heavy for hiking shoes
Best Breathable Hiking Shoes
If you live in a warmer climate, the Keen Explore Vent Shoes are made for hot summer months. The breathable mesh makes them great for hiking in the heat.
Also, the 4mm lugs give ample traction when hiking through tricky terrain. They’re ideal for a multitude of casual and sporty uses. There are also several support systems, including a Stability shank and a Radial support system in the midsole structure.
- Very durable sole
- 4mm multi-directional lugs on the outsole
- Well ventilated mesh material
- A little stiff at first
Best Ventilated Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Though most waterproof shoes tend to be less ventilated, the Vasque Breeze Lt Low Shoes are the exception. The GORE-TEX membrane still protects your feet when wading through wet terrain, however, the synthetic microfiber upper provides all-day breathability.
The Vibram Light base technology saves 25% in outsole weight, but it still grips well onto slick and bumpy surfaces. The improved fit is perfect for hiking long miles through different landscapes.
- Super lightweight (1lb 6oz)
- Vibram & Megagrip outsole
- EVA moulded midsole
- Not as much ankle support as other hiking shoes
Best Hiking Shoes for Day Hikes
Inspired by the challenging terrain on the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, the Danny Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes are an innovative trail trainer.
The dual-zone 460 Vibram Megagrip outsole helps cling to surfaces & prevents slipping. On long-distance hikes, the ultralight EVA midsole will support the hiker. Also, the reinforced heel counter provides stability.
These versatile shoes are comfortable enough for trail running, day hikes, and daily use.
- Amazing quality and aesthetics
- Inspired by the challenging Pacific Crest Trail
- Reinforced heel counter for lateral stability
- Not quite robust enough to be a multiple-day hiker
Best Ultra-Light Hiking Shoes
For more flexibility, enhanced comfort, and less bulk, check out the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes. The outsole combines MaxTrac rubber and TrailClaw grip, which stabilizes the foot on the ascent and the descent.
The cushioning keeps shock to a minimum, and the FootShape toe box gives wide feet plenty of room. The StoneGuard is designed to keep out small rocks and debris from the outsole. Despite all these innovative technologies, customers have reported that the shoe feels light as air.
- Exceptional grip on tricky terrain
- Spacious toe box
- Runs small—order ½ size up.
Best Hiking Shoes for Technical Terrains
Are you a daring climber, often finding yourself on questionable terrain? Then the Salewa Wildfire GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes may be your perfect companion.
The POMOCA Speed MTN sole grips the surface when mountain climbing, scrambling up steep hills or hiking through slick vegetation.
There is a climbing zone at the toe, as well as climbing lacing for more snug adjustments. The upper is made from mesh and an EXA-injected 3D cage for more torsional stability. Overall, this tech-approach shoe takes you beyond the day hike and into technical terrains.
- Tech approach shoe built for climbing
- Climbing laces and climbing toe zone for a snug fit
- 3D cage on the outsole for torsional stability
- Not as versatile for daily wear
What to Look for in Hiking Boots
Hiking Shoes vs Boots
Hiking boots can be more durable and provide more ankle stability than hiking shoes. On the other hand, shoes have more flexibility and breathability.
There is also more of a break-in period with boots. Initially, you can expect some blisters, so bring moleskin or bandaids on your first hike. The choice ultimately depends on what you’re doing—if you’re going for a long trek, a hiking boot is better.
Trail runners don’t have the same life expectancy as hiking boots. At the same time, they’re great for when you want to go fast and light. If you’re the type of person who goes on day hikes and multi-day treks, having both trail runners and hiking shoes is ideal.
Consider what kind of hiking you’ll be doing. Is it a slow and steady trail with a heavy backpack? Or is it a speedy jaunt through your local backwoods? The lighter the shoe, the faster you’ll be. Light hiking shoes make it easier to maintain a brisk pace as you blow through miles.
Today, hiking shoes integrate many different technologies into their construction. GORE-TEX waterproof membranes equip shoes for wet weather conditions. This waterproof material helps hikers cope with everything from misty mornings to heavy downpours.
EVA foam, often seen in the midsoles of shoes, gives support and cushioning. Vibram, another common material seen on the outsoles, helps give shoes durability and traction through varied terrain.
Waterproof vs Breathable
Breathable hiking shoes are usually designed with high-quality mesh. They are made to whisk away moisture on hotter days.
Waterproof shoes can sometimes lack breathability but have other benefits. If you want shoes for crossing streams or rainy conditions, look for shoes with waterproof treatments.
Soles & Traction
Aside from standard rubber outsoles that are designed for durability, additional features also give traction. Wide-spaced lugs, for example, help the hiker get through soft terrain such as mud. Deeper, thicker lugs improve grip on backpacking and mountaineering trips.
Fit is one of the most critical aspects when choosing a hiking shoe. You want a shoe that holds your foot securely in place, and doesn’t let your heel raise as you walk. Also, your toes need to have enough space to splay out comfortably.
If you go downhill and your toes hit the front of the shoe, this can cause pain and blisters.
FAQs for Hiking Shoes
Is ankle support necessary for hiking?
Depending on your intended use, ankle support may be necessary. Low-cut hiking shoe models are ideal for day hiking. Mid- to high-cut hiking boots are perfect for day hikes or backpacking trips with light loads. Finally, high-cut backpacking boots are designed for maximum support.
If you anticipate carrying a heavy load or hiking for several days, additional ankle support may be needed.
How long does it take to break in hiking shoes?
Is it ok to hike in sneakers?
If you are going on short day hikes in familiar terrain, sneakers are perfectly suitable. Hiking shoes are made to give you better stability and support if you’re carrying weight or hiking in challenging terrain.
Are barefoot shoes good for hiking?
Hiking shoes are one of the best investments you can make for your hiking adventures. We hope this comprehensive guide helps you make a better buying decision.
Remember, Altitude Sports has an easy return policy if you’re a member. You can order your shoes risk-free, and return them if they don’t fit or work properly. Browse the extensive selection of hiking shoes and find your perfect match.