Making this guide isn’t easy, but we will try to give you the most essential information and the guide you need for choosing the best boots for your need.
With the right kind of hiking boots, you can make your outside ventures a lot more enjoyable and adventurous. However, if you don’t pay careful attention to what you are buying, you could end up with hiking boots that are uncomfortable and extremely painful. Therefore, if you really do want to enjoy your mountaineering expeditions and ensure that the boots that you have bought will help keep your legs healthy and energized, you should read this simple guide to discover everything there is about selecting the best hiking shoes.
However, before scrolling down for the info you need, remember that as long as you pay close attention to the tips mentioned in this guide and actually implement them while selecting your new shoe, you will without a doubt have an extremely enjoyable hiking session with your friends or family. So, now that that is out of the way, here are the golden tips.
Factors to Look for When Choosing Hiking Boot
1. The Hiking Location/Place
If you are planning a light and easy day hike, it is recommended that you stay away from beefy backpacking boots and instead opt for mountain climbing shoes that are perfect for this kind of thing. However, if you do manage to find good quality mountaineering boot that you are comfortable with, you can use it for day hikes as well. Remember that there is a wide variety of hiking boots and shoes out there. However, each of these suits a particular adventure, so you should choose wisely. More about the different sorts of hiking boots out there are a little further on in this guide.
2. Comfortable Fit
One of the key deciding factors when purchasing a pair of shoes, sandals and boots is its fit and the level of comfort that it provides. Likewise, when you are in the process of selecting a hiking boot, it is crucial that you make sure that it is the right fit for you.
The three factors that will play an important role in providing you with the perfect fit are:
- Width: You will note that the overall width (especially that of the toe box) is immensely important for the comfort of your feet. You are considering should have enough space so that your feet don’t feel compressed. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be so wide that your feet slide around in your footwear.
- Length: The length of your boot should be such that your toes and feet can easily wiggle inside. Remember that even though you might have to adjust or break into the shoes a little, they shouldn’t be cramped. This is especially important if you have hammertoes or some kind of foot issues which heighten their sensitivity.
- Volume: A lot of people confuse the volume of a mountaineering shoe with the width, but the truth is that they are not the same. When you talk about the width of the shoe, you are basically talking about the platform beneath your foot, whereas the volume is the entire area available for your foot. Therefore, while selecting mountain boots, make sure that the bulk of your foot fits securely inside the boot.
Keep in mind that the thing which will be most helpful in selecting the right and the best one is the REI footwear knowledge. If this is a new term to you, don’t worry; it’s mentioned in detail right here in this guide.
4 Types of Hiking Boots
If you don’t know this already, there are four different types that are used by hikers around the world. By knowing about each of the hiking shoes and mountain climbing boot in detail, you will be able to make an informed decision and a sound investment in a new pair. So, here are the four categories in which the REI sorts the hiking footwear.
1. Light Hiking Shoes – Trail Running or Adventure Racing Shoes
If you are on the lookout for hiking shoes that you can tag along on your day hike, these light shoes will be your perfect companion. These are generally called running shoes because they have low cut models that have flexible midsoles. Because of these features, these are ideal for day hikes. In fact, there are a lot of light backpackers who use light-hiking footwear for long distance journeys even if they don’t plan to do any running or rock climbing.
1. Salomon Men’s XA Pro Mid GTX Hiking Shoe
It is a Mid height and fully waterproof hiking sneaker. This iconic shoe is for moving fast on rough terrain has been improved with an updated collar design for more comfort. The outsole has also been upgraded for superior grip on any surface. Hike your favorite peak in the Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid GTX.
2. Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe
Kick off a long weekend or just make a quick escape from your desk in Oboz’s versatile Sawtooth shoe. This low-top hiker features fabric and leather construction for a lightweight feel, a nylon shank and EVA midsole for great balance and added comfort, and a variegated outsole for slip-resistant grip on and off the trail. Defying foot fatigue and chafing, this lace-up also offers a radial fit system for a stay-put fit and padding throughout.
3. KEEN Men’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Here’s a waterproof hiking boot that offers four-wheel-drive performance for your feet. It’s designed to keep your feet dry and let them breathe, and the aggressive outsole bites into the terrain. The mid-cut height adds ankle support. From beaches to mountains to city streets, Keen believes the outdoors is anyplace without a ceiling. Keen believes in living a HybridLife, which means being part of a greater community that is full of people who create possibilities, play in the outdoors and care for the world around them.
4. Lowa Men’s Renegade II GTX LO Hiking Shoe
5. Scarpa Men’s Zen Multisport Shoe
Designed with approach hiking needs in mind, Scarpa creates a durable and attractive all-leather offering. The SCARPA Zen climbing shoe is designed for all-day wear and durability. With its comfort insole, EVA cushioning, and moisture-wicking lining, you’ll get the freedom and high performance you depend on to see your adventure to its end.
6. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Hiking Shoe
Move from track to trail and back again in the agile Merrell AllOut Blaze Mem trainer. Featuring a waterproof oily leather and mesh upper that provides a glove-like fit for lightweight durability and natural movement, this handsome men’s sneaker also features M Select DRY technology that seals out water and lets moisture escape so you can stay dry while on the move. Its Merrell Omni-Fit Lacing system provides a precise fit, while breathable mesh lining treated with M Select FRESH enhances inner air circulation for odor control. UNI-FLY and soft E-Foam midsole disperses impact and stabilizes for a solid takeoff, while Vibram outsole delivers all the traction, support, and stability you need during your day. Show off your versatile skills with the amazing AllOut Blaze Men by Merrell.
7. Adidas Men’s Outdoor Terrex Fast R Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe
This light athletic shoe moves faster than ever on the mountain. With protective weldings, a grippy Continental Rubber outsole, PRO MODERATOR support, waterproof GORE-TEX and ADIPRENE cushioning.
8. Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe
Five Ten was an originator of the approach shoe category and the Guide Tennie continues the tradition. The Stealth C4 Dotty outsole bites into multiple surfaces and also has a hand-ground beveled climbing toe. The Compression molded outsole and comfortable upper will keep you comfortable all day long.
2. Hiking/Approach Boots
This special kind of mountaineering boots is meant for those who love weekend backpacking trips with slightly lighter loads. These are mid- or high-cut footwear that provides the flexibility needed while you are hiking. Even though these boots are not recommended for long, tiresome and tough hikes, they are perfect for those looking for shoes that will provide support while climbing small hills and other such places.
1. Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Multifunctional Hiking Boot
Updated with sleek athletic design details the X Ultra Mid 2 GTX provides stability mid height support and the year round climate control of Gore Tex. The advanced chassis system provides stability, foot control and protection. It includes an EVA midsole for active comfort and less fatigue, with a TPU chassis in the middle and a rubber outsole for protection and precision. Gore Tex is the ultimate in climate comfort management, proving protection from wet environments and conditions without compromising flexibility, comfort and breathability. Contagrip is a mix of compound density and lug geometry to ensure grip durability and less weight; all optimised for fantastic traction on any surface. OrthoLite, an advanced proprietary polyurethane formula with recycled rubber content delivers a combination of benefits unmatched by any other insole manufacturer.
2. KEEN Men’s Durand Mid WP Hiking Boot
Amazing comfort and unsurpassed durability from the first step to the millionth! the KEEN Durand mid wp hiking boots for men are crafted of pu and dual compound rubber outsole. They deliver durable, dependable longevity for the long haul. Pu resists. From beaches to mountains to city streets, Keen believes the outdoors is anyplace without a ceiling. Keen believes in living a HybridLife, which means being part of a greater community that is full of people who create possibilities, play in the outdoors and care for the world around them.
3. Kenetrek Men’s Hardscrabble Hiker Hiking Boot
Named for the rugged mountain peak that overlooks our valley in Montana, the 7 inch Hardscrabble Hiker is as tough a hiking boot as you will find. The thick 2.8 mm full grain leather uppers with heavily padded collars provide solid support with exceptional comfort. High traction K-Talon outsoles with stiff nylon midsoles keep you from slipping in rough terrain while the waterproof, breathable Windtex membrane assures your feet stay dry. Don’t let its classic good looks fool you, the Kenetrek Hardscrabble Hiker is a tough-as-nails mountain boot built for use on or off the trail. 3.7 lbs. The Hardscrabble hiking boot from Kenetrek is one of the toughest of its kind. The boot is surprisingly comfortable with thickly-padded linings, and deep traction makes sure that your every step is steady over uneven terrain. The waterproof design will keep you dry through and through.
4. Zamberlan Men’s 1023 Latemar NW RR Hiking Boot
Zamberlan 1023 Latemar NW is yet another fine addition to Zamberlan’s new Icona collection of welted boots. Featuring a single-leather upper of 2.8mm waxed Tuscan leather molded with Zamberlan’s Foot Wrapping System (FWS) and placed on Zamberlan’s NorTrack sole, the 1023 Latemar NW is as reliable a boot as Zamberlan makes. Conquer the outdoors with this rugged hiking boot from Zamberlan. The 1023 Latemar NW features a tough leather upper with a metal lace-up front with speed laces for a quick fit. A welted manmade sole delivers grip and traction on or off the trail.
3. Backpacking Boots – Cross Hikers Boots
Slightly on a lower level than very strong and durable mountaineering boots are backpacking boots. They are designed so that they can carry loads of varying weights on trips that stretch on multiple days. They are supportive, durable and have stiffer midsoles than light hiking boots. However, you should know that there is a huge variety of them nowadays, so you will find many companies offering shoes that are between light hiking, hiking and backpacking shoes. Therefore, you should always make sure of selecting the right footwear for your purposes and feet.
1. Lowa Men’s Ticam GTX Backpacking Boot
Hit the trail head and never look back with the Catalan hiking boot from Lowa. Built with durable leather and sporting a moisture-managing Gore-Tex layer, this rugged outdoorsman is ready to take you to new heights. A Vibram rubber outsole delivers excellent traction wet or dry so you stay sure-footed no matter what lies around the next bend. If your idea of a relaxing vacation is strapping on your backpack and vanishing into the wild for a long weekend, the Ticam GTX trekking boot from Lowa is made for you. With a leather and synthetic upper, the Ticam is made to venture off the beaten path. A lugged Vibram rubber sole provides traction on everything from rock to mud, allowing unfettered access to Mother Nature as intended.
2. Asolo OM2064 519 Men’s Brown TPS 535 LTH V Hiking Boots
Asolo Hiking Boots are universally known to be long lasting, and comfortable hiking boots, and the OM2064-519 Brown TPS 535 LTH V uphold the Asolo Hikers reputation for building a better backpacking boot.These Asolo hiking boots feature Asolo’s Triple Power Structure Technology designed in conjunction with Vibram. This outsole design will provide you with three shock absorbers in the three prominent strike zones on your feet. Vibram calls out these areas on the outsoles with red circles. The top layer of the outsoles on these hiking boots is a high density polyurethane. Below is a low density polyurethane layer. These layers cradle in an Asolo and Vibram designed rubber outsole. Smooth but tough water resistant uppers will shield your feet from the rain or snow wherever you may go. When dealing with Mother Nature we need to be prepared, which is why these boots have Vibram rubber outsoles ensuring dependable traction. The hardware lacing system with quick loop hoops make it easy to get your hiking boots on and off, however, due to the gussetted tongues you don’t need to worry about getting any debris in these hiking boots. With durability, quality, and dependability all in the Alsolo OM2064 519 Men’s TPS 535 LTH V hiking boots, you are ready for whatever comes your way.
3. Scarpa Men’s SL Active Hiking Boot
Evolved from SCARPA’s classic SL M3, the SL Activ is a very supportive but exceptionally light backpacking boot incorporating SCARPA’s new Activfit technology. Activfit includes the highly cushioned, lightweight, dual-density Biometric PU midsole package, which puts different densities of polyurethane into specific locations to improve both cushioning and precision on the trail. The new more ergonomic upper design is made from Sherpa HS12 leather, and lined with memory foam with moisture wicking and odor control for a custom fit you will appreciate on long trips. A full perimeter rubber rand provides protection, and long-term durability and support in rough terrain.
4. Zamberlan Men’s 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot
Zamberlan Vioz GTX WATERPROOF Hiking Boots. Italian handcrafted comfort and quality for the long haul! And we mean “long haul” literally.. .as in, these were designed for extended backpacking, long treks, and four-season hikes! The Zamberlan Vioz GTX is a masterwork of comfort and performance, with features that make it truly all-day – even all-week – comfortable. The GORE-TEX lining provides the utmost protection and breathability, while the Microtex moisture-wicking nylon collar lining helps control excess moisture. The ankle features the Zamberlan Flex System, allowing your ankle to bend forward comfortably without compromising support laterally.
5. Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot
The updated Quest 4D 2 GTX retains outstanding stability and grip, with a more ergonomic tongue for improved comfort, laces that stay tied better, and fresh design details.
4. Mountaineering Boots – Heavy Boots
These shoes are designed to take on even the heaviest weight, accept crampons for glacier travels, and will keep your feet happy throughout the journey. These rock climbing boots are tough, durable and extremely supportive. Depending on the path you plan to take, they will surely help you stay on track.
1. Salewa Men’s Vertical Pro Wide Mountaineering Boot
It works perfectly on ice falls These boots combine light weight and insulation, making them the ultimate choice for your Alpine adventures. The Salewa 3F System provides optimal flexibility at the ankle, maximum lateral support, and perfect fit. Salewa’s Multiple Lasts ensures that any type of foot can fit, and it will prevent blisters. Vibram Salewa Pro Outsole is built to last and has ultra amazing grips. 3D System EVO divides this boot in to three parts for ultimate fine-tuning. Moosejaw CANNOT ship this product outside of the United States or Canada. Sorry about everything.
2. Scarpa Fuego Mountaineering Boot
Innovation and tradition share equally deep roots at SCARPA, a muti-generational, family-owned business whose headquarters and manufacturing facilities are in the same region of northern Italy where it was founded in 1938. SCARPA builds performance footwear for climbing, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, trail-running and other outdoor pursuits. Aside from being the Italian word for “shoe,” SCARPA is an acronym for Societa Calzaturiera Asolana Riunita Pedemontana Anonima (Associated Shoe Manufacturing Company of the Asolo Mountain Area). The Scarpa Fuego is A no-nonsense boot without any of the unnecessary bells or whistles that’s willing to go anywhere that you can get to.
3. La Sportiva Men’s Makalu Mountaineering Boot
Insole and full steel shank for automatic crampon compatibility Idro-Perwanger Leather upper is durable and extremely water repellent while still remaining breathable Rollerball hardware incorporates steel roller ball eyelets and locking D-rings for effortless and precise tensioning of boot laces. for independent fit Dry-Best? lining transports moisture away from the skin to keep you cool, dry and comfortable Burly rough out leather uppers for years of abuse Ideal for general mountaineering and heavy backpacking SBR Aircushion midsole features a honeycomb heel grid that flexes on impact to provide the ultimate comfort.
4. Salewa Crow GTX Mountaineering Boot
The crow GTX goes anywhere, quickly. It’s the ultimate summer mountaineering boot – offering exceptional durability and performance, all in a lightweight construction. The crampon-compatible vibram wrap thread combi sole offers optimal traction and surefootedness over rough terrain without compromising comfort, due to the shoe’s overlapping construction and the anatomical cuff. Salewa 3F system, 3D lacing and multi-fit footbed+ footbed ensure that the crow fits perfectly to your foot.
Materials and Construction
1. Upper Boot Materials
Those who have ample experience in hiking will know that the upper boot material is crucial when deciding the quality of the boot. After all, the material has an impact on the boot’s weight, breathability, water resistance and durability.
2. Split grain Leather
In case you’re wondering, this material earned its name because it splits away the rougher inner part of the cowhide from the smooth exterior. It is beneficial because it is less costly and won’t be heavy on your pocket. However, the downside is that it offers less resistance to water and abrasion. Still, there are some companies that combine the spilt grain leather with waterproof liners. In addition, the material is often paired with nylon mesh or nylon to provide lightweight and breathable comfort for the wearer.
3. Full Grain Leather
This material provides excellent durability, abrasion resistance and water resistance. It is mostly used in backpacking boots that are built for extended trips, rugged terrain and heavy loads. Even though these are not as light or breathable as nylon and split grain combinations, they are perfect for long hikes. However, you must know that boots that come with this type of leather will need ample time for you to break into if they are to be worn comfortably.
4. Nubuck Leather
This kind of leather is actually full grain leather that is buffed to look like suede. Nubuck leather is water resistant, abrasion resistant and also very durable. Even though it requires the same time to break into as full grain leather, it is quite flexible and comfortable in the end.
5. Synthetic Leather
Synthetic leather, a combination of nylon and polyester, is most commonly found in modern mountaineering boots. The good thing about this material is that it is quite light, making any shoe made from it easy to break into. Even though synthetic leather shoes are not completely water resistant, they do dry a lot quicker and cost a lot less than shoes and boots made from natural leather. However, if you are looking for hiking shoes that are durable, this material might not be your best option as it can wear out quicker than others.
6. Waterproof Linings
Labeled as “waterproof” are those which have a waterproof or breathable membrane constructed with the upper. These membranes are either made up of Gore-Tex® or eVent®. Of course, these shoes work well with conditions that are moist and extremely wet. However, the downside of these waterproof linings is that their breathability is reduced considerable due to the membranes. As a result, you are bound to feel dry and warm, especially in summer days.
An important tip to remember about the leather used in mountain boots is that they should always be treated with a waterproofing product that is recognized to keep the dust and dirt from affecting the waterproof lining later on.