Updated on November 21, 2021

Hiking may just be one of the most underrated outdoor activities. Not only is it a fantastic and inexpensive workout, but hiking can also grant you access to majestic sights that you otherwise may never lay eyes on. It’s a great activity for all ages and, depending on your geographic location, it can be done as a year-round pastime. Selecting the right (or wrong) hiking shoe can make or break any outing. Shoes literally provide the foundation for any great hike. But with all the options to choose from, picking the best hiking shoes for you can feel like a daunting task.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we pride ourselves in putting our best foot forward to help you find the ideal products for your specific needs. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best hiking shoes on the market to help you head down the trail with confidence in your new shoes.

For more of our top hiking footwear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

Waterproof Shoes | Lightweight Shoes | Trail Runners | Water Shoes

Hiking Shoes for Women | Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet | Hiking Shoes for Kids

 

Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Shoes

  1. Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex
  2. Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
  3. Hoka One One Toa Gore-Tex
  4. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX
  5. La Sportiva TX4
  6. Merrell MQM Flex
  7. Oboz Sawtooth II Low
  8. Salomon OUTline Low GTX
  9. KEEN Venture Low WP
  10. Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX

 

Comparison Table - The Best Shoes for Hiking

PictureNameWaterproof?WeightHeightPriceRating
Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-TexSalomon X Ultra 3 Gore-TexYes1lb 10.8ozAnkle$$5.0
Merrell Moab 2 VentilatorMerrell Moab 2 VentilatorNo1lb 15ozOver-the-ankle$4.7
Hoka One One Toa Gore-TexHoka One One Toa Gore-TexYes1lb 14.2ozOver-the-ankle$$$4.8
Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTXArc’teryx Aerios FL GTXYes1lb 8.4ozAnkle$$$4.7
La Sportiva TX4La Sportiva TX4No1lb 10ozAnkle$$4.5
Merrell MQM FlexNo1lb 3ozAnkle$$4.4
Oboz Sawtooth II LowYes2lbs 2.8ozAnkle$$4.6
Salomon OUTline Low GTXYes1lb 7.8ozAnkle$$4.7
KEEN Venture Low WPYes2lbs 2ozAnkle$$$4.6
Vasque Breeze LT Low GTXYes1lb 6ozAnkle$$$4.8
PictureNameWaterproof?WeightHeightPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Hiking Shoes

Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 10.8oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Gore-Tex® waterproof liners
  • Soft textile linings wick moisture away
  • Ortholite sockliners combine a specific Ortholite foam and contoured EVA heel cups for enhanced heel support and cushioning
  • Mud guards and integrated rubber toe caps provide durable protection from roots and rocks
Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex

BEST OVERALL HIKING SHOES

Providing for the optimal blend of light weight, durability, and comfort, the X Ultra 3s are a great companion for wearing on pretty much any hiking trail you travel.

With multiple models to choose from, you’re sure to find an X Ultra 3 that is perfect for you. This Gore-Tex model offers excellent water resistance but this does cause the shoe to run warmer than the non-waterproof models. The sole of this shoe has impressive grip across a variety of terrains and substantial cushioning to ease the weight of carrying a heavy pack. The synthetic uppers and beefy toe cap help keep this shoe on the trail for years to come.

What I like about this choice is how versatile the line-up is, including lightweight, wide, and a non-GTX model you can choose for better breathability.

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Specs
  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 15oz
  • Waterproof?: No
Features
  • Performance suede leather and mesh uppers with protective rubber toe caps
  • Bellowed, closed-cell foam tongues keep moisture and debris out
  • Merrell Air Cushion in the heels absorbs shock and adds stability
  • EVA midsoles provide stability and comfort
  • Vibram TC5+ outsoles have a 5mm lug depth for grip
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

BEST FOR: HIKERS ON A BUDGET

When you need a quality hiking shoe for your next adventure and you don’t have a lot to spend, consider the Moab 2s — they just might be exactly what you’re looking for.

These perfect summer time hiking shoes excel at keeping your feet cool and comfy all day. Durable synthetic uppers offer substantial ventilation and increased cushioning in the heel provides for support when you’re carrying a heavy pack. The Ventilator model described here is perfect for hot weather hiking but it’s important to note that there is a Gore-Tex version, which may suit hikers in wetter conditions.

What I like about the Moab 2s is that for a moderate price, you can get a long-lasting pair of hiking shoes.

Hoka One One Toa Gore-Tex

Specs
  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 14.2oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Waterproof nubuck leather uppers and GORE-TEX® waterproof booties provide a complete barrier against wet weather
  • Mesh collars offer breathability and comfort
  • Gusseted tongues offer secure midfoot lockdown
  • Rubberized toe caps provide protection against trail debris
Hoka One One Toa Gore-Tex

BEST FOR: COMFORT ON OR OFF TRAIL

These plush, well-cushioned kicks are designed to protect your feet and joints from excessive soreness — as well as help with injury prevention — after a long day out on the trail.

Rocker-designed soles with multiple layers of foam help make these shoes one of the most comfortable hikers available. A soft synthetic fabric is wrapped around the foot like a cloud to help prevent the formation of hot spots and slow blister development. The slightly taller ankle support inspires confidence while cruising through rocky or loose terrain. Last but not least, an oversized outsole serves to adequately protect you from contact abrasion with rocks and sharp objects that you might encounter out on the trail so you can focus more on your surroundings and less on your feet.

What I like most about the HOKA One Toas is that even with the substantial extra support and comfort these shoes provide, they still only weigh in just a little over 2 pounds.

Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 8.4oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • GORE-TEX® membranes provide waterproof protection at a light weight across variable conditions on the trail
  • Toe caps guard against stubbed toes
  • 4mm thick OrthoLite® 3D molded insert adds cushioning
  • Vibram® Megagrip outsoles deliver surefooted traction across varied terrain
Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX

BEST FOR: ULTRALIGHT HIKING

If you enjoy maximum freedom of movement and feeling like you are not wearing shoes at all, look to the Aerios.

Minimalist hiking shoes are gaining traction in the hiking industry as more people opt for lightweight footwear over the clunky boots of trail days past. These Gore-Tex lined shoes are not only waterproof but weigh only 1.6 pounds, making them ideal for long trips and thru-hiking. The ankle support for these shoes is slightly lower than other alternatives, which does open the door to potential ankle rolling, but when worn properly, these shoes can carry you a long way injury free. Even with the waterproof layer incorporated into these shoes, the cordura mesh upper still breathes rather well.

What I like about these shoes is the waterproof liner that allows you to move through small puddles with ease, an uncommon trait associated with minimalist shoes.

La Sportiva TX4

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 10oz
  • Waterproof?: No
Features
  • Durable leather uppers provide comfort and abrasion resistance in rugged terrain
  • STB Control System™ delivers torsional rigidity and support without encumbering underfoot cushioning
  • OrthoLite® insoles offer comfort and odor control
La Sportiva TX4

BEST FOR: ROCKY TERRAIN

Next time you plan on tackling a rocky summit, be sure to don the TX4s for the ultimate combination of comfort and traction.

By redesigning the sole of these shoes, La Sportiva was able to boost traction without adding weight, making them ideal for ascending or descending steep, bouldery slopes. A thick rubber sole, full rubber rand, and durable leather upper inspires confidence for moving fast. If you don’t mind the stiffer midsole integrated to increase underfoot support while scrambling, these shoes are equally suitable choice for everyday hiking. The drawstring woven into the lacing allows you to achieve a snug fit around the foot without becoming so tight that you experience rubbing or chaffing.

What I like most about these shoes is despite being designed as approach shoes for climbing, they’re surprisingly light, weighing in at 1 pound 10 ounces.

Merrell MQM Flex


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 3oz
  • Waterproof?: No
Features
  • Breathable Mesh Linings
  • Air Cushions In The Heel (to absorb shock and add stability)
  • Proprietary Grip Rubber Outsoles Provide Excellent Traction

BEST FOR: MOVING QUICKLY IN THE MOUNTAINS

Merrell was founded nearly four decades ago with a mission to design and manufacture handmade custom boots. One of those original styles remains in the brand’s lineup today. Today, this industry leader creates a multitude of footwear options all while remaining true to their humble beginnings. 

Utilizing a variety of proprietary materials, the MQM Flex is chocked full of features for moving light and fast on the trail. Synthetic uppers and breathable mesh linings will protect and keep your feet comfortable for extended outings. The M Select Grip rubber outsoles provide excellent traction for a variety of trails and conditions.

Oboz Sawtooth II Low

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 2lbs 2.8oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Proprietary Waterproof Membrane
  • Breathable Mesh Vents
  • Asymmetric Ankle Collars For Increased Comfort

BEST FOR: LONG DAYS ON THE TRAIL

Founded in Bozeman, Montana, Oboz is a company as committed to producing quality footwear as they are to protecting the environment. The company’s headquarters is powered entirely by wind power and the brand plants a tree for every pair of shoes sold. 

The Sawtooth II Low BDry features a waterproof leather upper with a moisture-wicking mesh liner for breathability. In addition to the naturally waterproof properties of the leather upper, this shoe utilizes a proprietary waterproof and breathable membrane called “B-Dry”. Located in the liner, this membrane allows moisture to escape from the inside of the shoe while keeping out the elements for a comfortable hike every time. Asymmetrical ankle collars (lower on the outside and higher on the inside) accommodate a wide range of movement on a variety of terrains.

Salomon OUTline Low GTX

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 7.8oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Protective Toe Caps For Extra Protection
  • Antimicrobial Treated Footbeds For Odor Control
  • Gusseted Tongue Aids In Keeping Debris Out Of The Shoe

BEST FOR: TECHNICAL AND AGILE ADVENTURES

Salomon was founded as France was emerging from World War II. Their initial offerings included ski edges and saw blades. Born in the French Alps, the brand evolved, as did the market for outdoor sporting equipment and apparel. Today, the company is internationally known for producing high quality products for hiking, trail running, adventure racing, skiing, and snowboarding. 

The OUTline Low GTX is the evolution of a running shoe paired with a hiking boot. The shoe is technical and agile, yet also rugged enough to protect your feet on the trail. This lightweight hiking shoe features protective rubber caps around the toes to prevent painful stubbing on roots and rocks. And, it’s waterproof with a Gore-Tex lining on the interior of the shoe to keep your feet dry in case you get caught in the rain on the trail.

It also comes with a gusseted tongue, which means that it’s attached at its sides to the shoe’s upper. This style of tongue helps prevent debris from entering the shoe from the top. The brand’s proprietary rubber outsole is called Contagrip and is designed to grip any surface, no matter how slick.

KEEN Venture Low WP

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 2lbs 2oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Mesh Uppers For Breathability
  • Natural Odor Control
  • Proprietary Waterproof Membrane (to keep your feet dry)

BEST FOR: GO-ANYWHERE SUPPORT

Keen is a relative newcomer in the footwear industry. What started in 2003 with the brand’s iconic hiking sandal has blossomed into a brand that features both lifestyle and active options.

Utilizing an array of proprietary materials, the Venture Low WP is a lightweight go-anywhere shoe. It features a KEEN.DRY waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the water out while allowing moisture to escape the interior of the shoe so you can hike comfortably through puddles or wet grass without worrying about soaking your socks. The Keen All-Terrain rubber outsoles provide high-traction grip on a variety of terrain. The mesh uppers are further reinforced with synthetic overlays that help to increase the durability as well as the lifespan of the shoe.

Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX

Specs
  • Height: Ankle
  • Weight: 1lb 6oz
  • Waterproof?: Yes
Features
  • Moisture Wicking Materials
  • Abrasion-Resistant, Microfiber Mesh Uppers (for increased breathability and durability)
  • GORE-TEX Waterproof Membrane (to create a waterproof environment for your feet)

BEST FOR: LONG DISTANCE HIKES

Founded in 1964, the brand was founded with a singular mission to get Americans outside and hiking. Over five decades later, Vasque continues to create dependable and durable products utilizing innovative technologies and materials.

The Breeze LT Low features an outsole that combines Vibram Megagrip with Vibram Lightbase technology to provide exceptional traction with a 25% reduction in weight. Founded in 1937, Vibram is an innovative outsole manufacturer that produces high-quality rubber that can be found on footwear worldwide. A waterproof GORE-TEX membrane surrounding these shoes provides a waterproof barrier to protect your feet from outside moisture while moving sweat away from the inside of the shoe. While the waterproof liner protects your feet from the elements, the durable, synthetic mesh outer provides an abrasion-resistant shell so you don’t have to worry about your feet getting wet or injured while hiking. The footbeds of the Breeze LT Low are anatomically designed to offer additional support and shock absorption.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING HIKING SHOES

TYPE OF HIKING

Terrain dictates the type of shoe one should choose when planning to purchase footwear. Hiking footwear is typically used for day outings while carrying lighter loads in a daypack. Rugged boots are usually overkill for day hikes and can prove to be hotter and heavier than shoes designed to be lighter and more breathable. Always ask yourself, what type of hiking do I plan to do? Will I be hiking on designated trails? Will I go off-trail and bushwhack through the woods and low brush? Will the terrain be rocky and wet or dry and flat (or any combination of the above)?

 

COST

Hiking shoes come in an array of styles and price points. In addition to the type of hiking you plan to do, you should also consider your budget. We’ve provided a broad selection of quality hiking shoes that are as varied as their costs. Some are more budget friendly while others will require a little more of an investment. Properly cleaning your hiking shoes can increase the lifespan of your footwear so you won’t have to purchase a new pair of shoes every year.

 

ANKLE SUPPORT

While hiking (versus backpacking) often involves carrying lighter weights, you should consider your individual needs in regards to ankle support. With hiking, you typically carry a daypack and just a few essentials for the hike. Unlike backpacking, this frees you up to choose from a wider range of hiking shoes versus heavier boots. If you know you have weak ankles and need additional ankle support, we have provided several over-the-ankle options on the list above. In general, ankle-height shoes provide little to no ankle support and this factor should be considered when deciding on which shoes are right for you.

 

HIKING SEASON

Hiking is a great year-round activity. With summer, the temperature rises, and having breathable footwear can be advantageous in preventing too much moisture retention. Pairing a breathable shoe with quality hiking socks can provide a symbiotic relationship that will provide the ideal balance for a long (or short) day on the trail.

However, as the weather begins to cool, it’s important to consider a shoe that will prevent moisture from entering from the outside of the shoe (like those containing GORE-TEX or other proprietary waterproof membranes). This feature will protect your feet should it rain or if you have to step in shallow creeks or puddles on the trail. These waterproof membranes also allow moisture created in the form of sweat to escape from the shoe, which helps to keep your feet warm and dry.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

OUTSOLE

The outsole is the outermost layer of a shoe that comes into contact with the ground. Rubber is used for all outsoles in hiking shoes.

INSOLE

An insole is the inside part of a shoe that makes direct contact with the bottom of the foot.

VIBRAM

Vibram was created by an Italian based company. They have been producing rubber outsoles for over eighty years. Though originally created for mountaineering, these soles are now used by numerous footwear manufacturers (including many in this roundup).

WATERPROOF LINING

Waterproof fabrics like Gore-Tex (GTX) and proprietary fabrics used by Oboz, Merrell, and Keen (in this roundup) provide a barrier against water entering the footwear from the outside. These same fabrics also allow for moisture inside the shoe to escape through a breathable membrane layer.

LUGS

Lugs are raised bumps on the bottom of the outsole that provide traction on a variety of terrain. The pattern of the lugs on the bottom of the shoe can also work to provide traction under varied conditions.

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking & backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

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