The rule goes that if you keep your feet happy you’ll have a happy hike. If you fail to prepare properly and are caught unaware on the trail, an hour of walking back to base through the rain with just your t-shirt can be an unfortunate experience where you return cold and wet, or it can be absolutely miserable with each step taken in agony from blisters and the squelching of cotton socks inside ill fitting boots. I think we can all agree that it’s best to read up now and avoid this grim future.
We’re going to focus on the gold standard for hiking – the boot – and find the best hiking boots, the ones that are going to fit your needs by looking at the different factors that affect what environment a boot will perform best in. Not all boots are created equal and just like you wouldn’t wear your winter boots to the beach you won’t want to pick up a heavy pair of cold weather hiking boots for summer hiking along flat forest trails. If you’re looking for more information on a certain boot, check out the in-depth hiking boot review by clicking on the name.
Top Rated Hiking Boots Comparison Chart
Reading the Chart
- Weight – The approximate weight of a pair of boots in pounds
- Waterproofing – The waterproofing systems used (GTX = Gore-Tex)
- Upper Material – What is the foot covering part of the boot made of
- Sole Material – What is the outer sole of the boot made of, the part on the ground
- Recommended for – The specific conditions, hikes and personal preferences that this boot is best suited for
- Price – A rough guide of the price which may fluctuate $ = Less Expensive while $$$$ = More Expensive
- User Rating – The combined rating of Amazon.com Users. This gives a wider sample size for our hiking boots reviews. All boots on this chart meet our requirements for quality for the recommended activities.
For more in-depth information on boots you can check out a specific boot review.
|Brand and Name||Weight|
Hi-Tec Flagstaff Waterproof
|$||4.5/5||Hi-Tec Flagstaff Waterproof Review|
|Salomon Quest 4D GTX Review||2.8||Goretex Outer|
|Contragrip Rubber Blend||Wet Conditions|
|$$$||4.7/5||Salomon Quest 4D GTX Review|
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||2.4||Goretex Breathable||Vibram EVO||Wet Conditions|
|Keen Targhee II Mid||2.1||Keen.Dry Membrane||Rubber||Day Hikes|
|$$||4.3/5||Keen Targhee II Mid Review|
|Asolo Power Matic 200||4.9||Goretex||Lug Rubber Sole||Wet Conditions|
|Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Mid Ankle||3||Waterproof Leather||Rubber||Day Hikes|
|Northside Ridgecrest Mid||2||Waterproof Leather||Rubber||Day Hikes|
|Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX||2.5||Goretex Breathable||Vibram||Hot climates|
|$$||4.4/5||Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX Review|
|Merrell Thermo 6 Waterproof Cold Weather||2||TPU Shell|
|Keen Gypsum Mid Waterproof||2.2||Keen.Dry Membrane|
|Hi-Tec Altitude IV||2.5||Waterproof Leather Upper||Rubber||Wet Conditions|
|Under Armour Valsetz Tactical||1.9||Water Resistant||Rubber||Dry Conditions|
Fast High Activity
|Salewa Men's Mountain Trainer Mid GTX||1.4||Gore-Tex||Vibram||Wet Conditions|
Factors to Consider When Buying Hiking Boots
In order to make the correct choice, you are going to have to consider your reasons for purchasing your boots.
Considering the that prices can vary wildly, think about what sort of quality you are looking for and for what sort of activities.
If you want a pair of boots to go out bird watching once or twice a month you might not need to spend top dollar. If you are going on a 4-day backpacking trip on the other hand, you will not want to be caught short when your waterproofing gives out or you end up with a tear.
Weight - Hiking boots fall into two categories when it comes to weight, light, mid and heavy-weight. Though many modern hiking boots strive to be as light as possible, and do quite well, a boot is still expected to provide a certain level of durability and support. If you are looking for an extremely light-weight option for hiking it may be best to consider a hiking shoe or sandal.
With that said when you are picking between weights you can make your decision based on what sort of terrain you’ll be going through. If lots of rocks, thick underbrush and other tough terrain are on the agenda you will probably want to look heavier. If it is mostly flat or light hills, trails and lighter terrain, a light-weight boot may be a better option.
Waterproofing – There are two important factors to consider when talking about waterproofing.
- Level of waterproofing, in the sense of, how long will they stand up to consistent wetness
Materials like leather and suede are naturally waterproof to a certain degree, however newer materials like Gore-Tex will withstand water longer and also have the huge advantage to overall comfort of being breathable.
Again consider your situation; if you will find yourself going across very shallow streams, big puddles or may be out in the rain for an extended time you will want to invest in Gore-Tex. For light raid and damp ground the natural waterproofing of leather should do the trick without getting too uncomfortable from lack of breathablility.
Some models also feature a waterproof “bootie” for protection on the inside. Another thing to consider is that waterproofing diminishes with use and time, but you can re-waterproof boots simply using readily available products (Check the video below for more information and remember to only use products that maintain breathability). Finally, keep in mind that hiking boots are not meant to be submerged in water.
Materials - When it comes to hiking boots, leather has been the material of choice for a long time and many boots are often still made from leather rather than synthetic material like a typical shoe.
Leather stands up well to abuse, is fairly easy to clean and is thick enough to provide the necessary protection. However, leather is quite heavy and in the interest of saving weight many boots are being made of suede and synthetic together, though very few are fully synthetic and those that are will likely be on the high or low end of the spectrum.
Consider if you will need a full leather boot for more extreme waterproofing situations (but extremely slow drying time as well), very dense bush or for extra support. Most of the time you may find that the lighter weight of a synthetic material really adds a lot to a quality boot.
Support – This is a big one and one of the best reasons to choose a hiking boot over some other footwear.
There are two spots you need to support your foot while hiking and they are your “arch” or the bottom of your foot and your ankle.
Any decent hiking boot will have built in arch support designed to prevent your foot from flattening out with each step. This causes your foot muscles to overextend and extra stress on joints which quickly leads to pain. A partially inflexible layer that supports your arches, as well as gives you some side to side stability is a must.
The other type of support, ankle support, comes from the extra height of the upper part of the boot which extends up the leg.
The stiffer it is, the more support there is to prevent rolling the ankle and also supporting it from strain. A mid height ankle boot is typical and provides good support in most cases, though for carrying very heavy loads (over 50 lbs) and mountaineering there are special boots available with extremely stiff sleeves.
Your Experience Level - Usually your experience level will decide what sorts of trails or hikes you will tackle.
As a beginner you may be fine with a less expensive boot to start with and get your footing on the hiking scene so to speak. As you get more active and hikes become longer a more expensive and durable boot becomes a better option. It will stay with you longer, fit better with age and will come to be your friend on the trail; and if you are going out on multi-day backpacking adventures you will not want to be relying on a cheap pair of boots to get you through it.
Your Desired Use - Somewhat related to experience level, however you may just wish to buy different boots for different purposes. Having one pair of nice boots saved for the tough treks that you don’t want to wear out on the easy trails is one example. You may be looking for a pair of warm weather boots and a pair of cold weather boots, or some with extra waterproofing. For short hikes you might look for a more cushy boot with extra padding and less support that is more comfortable. Whatever you’re going to be doing though, there is a boot that will fit your needs, you just need to find it.
How to Test the Fit and What to Do When Your Boots Arrive
Getting a good fit from your boots is an extremely important factor and will lead to a long lasting, comfortable boot and happy feet all hike long. You’ll need to consider 4 factors when considering fit.
- Interior – Your “upper” of your boots should fit snugly around your foot but not be so tight that your foot is being compacted or too loose that there is lots of extra room.
- Width – Again your feet should fit snugly and not be compressed or sliding around.
- Length – You should be able to wiggle your toes but not flap your foot around up and down. As well, a good tip is to try and slide your index finger down the back of the boot. It should go in with a little resistance but if it is very hard to get in or very easy, your boots are probably a bad fit.
- Toe-Box – Having a properly sized toe-box is important. Make sure that your toes aren’t cramped in on the sides or by the front. This part combined both length and width and is an important area to give a bit of extra attention. It is a good idea to check hiking boots reviews for how “true to fit” a boot is.
Some extra things you should consider are your insoles and socks.
It will be important to have both liner socks and outer socks for when you come to try on your boots. Always wear boots with the socks you plan to wear hiking to gauge the fit correctly.
Also, insoles are important to provide correct arch support. If you have a high or low arch, look for special insoles which will provide support as well as those with extra comfort features. Stock insoles are great, but adding a pair with extra padding or gel can improve the comfort of your boots, but will also change the fit.
When you get a new pair of boots you might be excited to go out and hit the trails right away, but it is important that you follow the proper instructions for breaking in your boots before heading out.
Best Hiking Boots for Men – Reviews
A good hiking boot should keep your feet comfortable and dry, provide support on uneven terrain and protection from sticks and underbrush while standing up to wear and tear without breaking down on you in the field. Keep in mind the material, waterproofing level, how easy it is to clean, material of the sole and interior as well as the overall look of the boot, a great boot that you don’t wear because you hate the look of isn’t much good.
Our hiking boots reviews look at factors like comfort, waterproofing, traction, stability, weight, sole and upper materials and extra features to determine what the best hiking boots for men truly are. Remember that a good boot is an investment and depending on how much you’re on the trails can last you many, many years and once they’re broken in will fit just right they might just be your favorite pair of footwear.
#1 Top Choice – Salomon Quest 4D Gore-Tex
Next is a high end boot from a top company in the hiking boot arena and that is extremely popular in both men’s and women’s sizes.
Gore-Tex waterproofing provides a big boost in the quality as it adds breathability and therefore increased comfort and ability to this boot.
They are light, have reinforced heel and toe ends and has Salomon’s Contagrip soles which provide a big improvement from standard rubber and are non-marking.
With these on your feet there will be no trouble heading out backpacking for a weekend or longer as they’re durable, comfortable and provide proper support to keep you on your feet and moving for miles at a time. Extreme waterproofing and comfort are the defining factors of this top hiking boot.
#2 Best Value – Hi-Tec Men’s Flagstaff Waterproof
These are entry level waterproof boots from a company that excels in offering great value while getting people out of their running shoes and into a real hiking boot.
They are particularly good because they offer real waterproofing, which is rare at the introductory price range. This style of boot will be familiar to most people as it is styled in popular cross-trainer fashion like many street shoes. It is a great idea for a first boot or as a gift for someone you are trying to encourage to go hiking with you but doesn’t have anything to wear.
They may not last as long or provide the things you’ll need for advanced trails, but the combination of newbie friendly style, great price and true waterproofing make these a fantastic boot decision.
Another top of the line mid-weight boot with excellent Gore-Tex waterproofing. The Breeze 2.0 is the successor to the original, very popular Breeze boot.
The styling with mesh makes them slightly cooler and more breathable than other similar boots which can be a definite bonus to comfort when you’re hard at work hiking and don’t need any extra moisture around your feet.
One thing that sets these apart is the Vibram Contact sole which provides the very highest levels of comfort and traction of about any sole material out there.
Vasque size system also allows for narrow, medium and wide feet which, if you have narrow or wide feet, you will recognize is a huge deal. These will fit great, are super lightweight and keep your feet comfortable, dry and protected wherever they take you.
#4 Keen Targhee II Mid
Keen is a real innovator in the hiking boot market and are responsible for some of the best hiking boots, especially in the area of comfort.
The Targhee II is no exception as it is very comfortable and provides excellent support in every area, ankle, heel (with the S3 support structure – Shock, Suspension and Stability) and midfoot (Removable EVA midsole) as well as extra protection around the heel and toe and great multidirectional lugs for great traction.
Another way that Keen likes to change it up is with waterproofing, using the Keen.Dry breathable waterproof membrane in the liner. Though we must assume(it’s a Keen secret) it is of a similar design to Gore-Tex, as it is very similar, we can’t be sure.
Unfortunately many people report that they prefer Gore-Tex to Keen.Dry as it is not quite as breathable or waterproof, it is still a top competitor for waterproofing. This is a fantastic boot for a new hiker as it is very comfortable and easy to wear and provides extra support and protection from injury.
That said experienced hikers will also be able to go the distance with the Targhee II. Learn all about the Keen Targhee II on the review page.
#5 Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail Gore-Tex Mid Length
Timberland is known for their workboots and for being quite stylish, but they have been making their way into the hiking boot market as well, with some great results.
By now you know about the superior protection provided by Gore-Tex, which these boots have, the waterproofing is excellent. One thing you’ll find about the Chocorua’s is that they are extremely comfortable when you aren’t on the move thanks to all the cushioning they have built in.
They aren’t bad while on the move, but if you are inclined to stop frequently to take photos or examine the local flora or fauna you might consider that these will be right up your alley.
The main problem is the stock insoles aren’t great and it is a good idea to replace them, which will improve the comfort while hiking a lot. Finally, in true Timberland fashion, these boots are quite stylish and with over 500 Amazon reviews and still holding over 4 stars you can expect to be happy with what you get.
#6 Rock Solid – Asolo Power Matic 200
The Power Matic 200’s are monsterous and will turn you into a terror, able to go where you please, through forests, up rocks and over streams at will.
They are heavier weight than most other boots reviewed here but they are much more solid as well. You’ll get heavy duty waterproofing for heavy rain and puddles, thick rubber soles with a Vibram midsole for extra traction which will allow you to walk over any terrain, fallen logs, sharp rocks, mud and whatever else you can find while keeping you safe and comfortable.
You might note that it is pricier but now you also know why. If your goal is to go anywhere and explore everything a pair of Power Matics will let you do it, if you just want to get out and enjoy the trails you might not need all the extras.
After reading out top rated hiking boots reviews, you can check in with our comparison chart again and compare your favorite boots against each other.
Best Hiking Boots for Women – Reviews
Luckily for us, everyone can enjoy hiking and most popular styles of hiking boots come available in both women’s and men’s sizes and styles. While popular styles are usually enjoyed by both sexes, there are sometimes differences in popular opinion when it comes to boot choices. So here we have the opportunity to go over the most popular hiking boots for women.
The very same style of these Salomon’s rank among the best hiking boots for women as well as men, and there is little question about why. Full waterproofing is provided with Gore-Tex, the sole is Salomon’s awesome Contagrip soles which give great grip, foot/arch support as well as protection from rough and rocky terrain which some thinner soles are known to be less effective against and poke into the sole of your foot through the rubber.
The lacing system is also a big point with the Quest’s as laces stay in place very well and give a good deal of support to the ankles when done up and also allow you to alter foot and ankle tension separately. Once again the price is higher but so are the levels of comfort, safety and waterproofing. Great for almost any hike you can plan.
Find the in-depth review here.
#2 KEEN Targhee II Mid
By far the most beloved hiking boot for women on Amazon, over 300 reviews and an average rating of over 4.5 stars you could say these boots have a few fans.
Best features include extreme heel and toe protection and extra midsole support including design specs to reduce foot fatigue by stabilizing the midfoot. All KEEN boots come with the KEEN.Dry waterproofing system, and though generally regarded as less effective than Gore-Tex the difference is only slight so the moisture wicking breathability remains.
High traction sole lugs, along with the other protection measures make this a comfortable, safe boot that will easily take you on long, multiday trips easily. Although it is a close race between #1 and #2, the Keen Targhee II comes out ahead as the best hiking boots for women.
The full Keen Targhee review is right here.
#3 Ahnu Montara
Another fan favorite with over 230 reviews and a rating over 4.5 stars on Amazon. The sole is true Vibram for maximum traction, control and comfort, with a reinforced toe protector to boot.
It has breathable waterproofing including a bootie and a mid-height top with high lacing for the required ankle support. The Montara’s are an awesome mid to high end boot, very light while being durable and sturdy, and to set them apart from the competition just check out the awesome purple pair with yellow highlights, style and color other than brown like these are generally pretty hard to find in a hiking boot.
#4 Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Here we have another amazing boot that is incredibly popular with both women and men. They have Vibram soles and Gore-Tex waterproofing, so right off the bat you can tell that they are something special.
The trademark Monowrap midsole from Lowa is also built into the Renegades for extra cushioning and stability as well as reduced weight. They’ve got a very good lacing system as well and are very easy to lace, tie and adjust to your style and preference and require very little break in time, comfortable almost right out of the box.
One other interesting thing to note about this boot is that it comes in 12 DIFFERENT COLOR STYLES which is simply an unheard of variety and quite impressive. So if you simply must have a boot with the right colors, whether its red, purple orange or something else, you should be checking out the Renegade.
Vegan Hiking Boots Reviews
In case you didn’t know, veganism is about more than just what you eat. The vegan lifestyle promotes a more humane and caring world by not using animals or animal products for any purpose. So hiking boots, typically made from leather are out. That said, a vegan-friendly boot can be tough to find and most of what is out there fits in the category of shoe, however there are some fantastic options out there if you are willing to look around.
Make sure that the material is actually listed as fully synthetic as some boots made out of leather with synthetic textile patterning may try to fool you. Vegan or not (but they are), by all accounts these are two fantastic hikers, which proves that leather isn’t strictly necessary when building a better vegan hiking boot.
Though they are marketed as a light shoe, they are really on the border between a mid-height shoe and a boot. Since the height helps with ankle support, something that we tend towards boots for this is on the border. The laces don’t go as high as some others to allow you to control the tightness and support but they go higher than a typical shoe.
They’re very lightweight which is a bonus and have breathable waterproofing provided by our favorite Gore-Tex. Probably the best part about these shoes, other than being totally vegan down to the special glue, is the sole design, both inside and out.
The outer sole is special Ice Lock Hypergrip rubber which provides superior traction over normal rubber soles on any terrain, even snow and ice. On the inside the sole is also specialized, built for comfort and arch/instep support so that your feet won’t fatigue on the trail.
Due to the lighter weight design it may not last quite as long as the sturdier boots but it is certainly going to last a good while. Consider sizing if you plan to need extra room for socks in this slightly thinner than normal boot.
Highest Rated Boots for Hiking by Category
Here is where we go over the top boots in specific categories. If you need to know the best boot to get for a specific situation or lifestyle then look no further for specialty hiking boots reviews.
Best Waterproof Hiking Boots
Keep in mind that the best waterproof hiking boot is not the one that keeps out the most water, but the one that protects your feet from getting wet while allowing moisture to leave from the inside, otherwise you would see a $10 pair of rubber boots listed in this section.
Winner – Salomon Quest 4D GTX – The Quest 4D’s not only have superior Gore-Tex breathable waterproofing, but they also include a Gore-Tex bootie for extreme protection. If you pair these with a pair of gaiters you can pretty much guarantee that you feet are going to stay dry short of jumping in a lake. Note that we’re not including specialized cold weather/snow boots (Check out our best Winter boot below) or extreme rubberized varieties because they are just that, specialized. If you are headed to an area where you will need them, you should know and prepare beforehand.
Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
The majority of mid-weight boots come in from 2-2.5 lbs. While every pound counts out in the bush, boots are one place you don’t want to skimp. We looked for a boot with as many top materials as possible while keeping the weight under 2.5lbs.
Winner – Lowa Renegade GTX Mid – The Renegade has top of the line components like GTX waterproofing and Vibram rubber soles that we look for, along with sturdy nonslip lug treads. What sets them apart is that they are specifically designed to reduce weight while still being durable using a Lowa branded technique called a “Monowrap frame” on the midsole. Combine that with how comfortable the insides are and this gets the nod in the best lightweight category.
Best Winter Hiking Boots
When considering a winter hiking boot, you will want to look for many of the same things as a warmer weather boot, but with more insulation and slightly different treads for dealing with the snow that will likely follow the cold.
Winner – Merrell Thermo 6 Waterproof Cold Weather Boot – The Thermo 6 not only has the superior grip of a Vibram sole for traction in wet and snowy conditions, 200g of Thinsulate insulation and a thermal reflective insole for added warmth but it also comes with a TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) shell which provides the most extreme waterproofing. While Gore-Tex is usually the go to for waterproofing, this is because normally we want a hiking boot to be light and breathable and isn’t designed for constantly being surrounded by wetness. When it comes to a snow or cold weather boot, being able to stand up to the constant wetness of snow and staying warm becomes increasingly important. The TPU shell on the lower part of the boot, along with a breathable upper portion still let excess moisture out from the inside but prevent it from going in the outside. The superior waterproofing, great insulation and Vibram sole make these the best winter hiking boots around.
Most Comfortable Hiking Boots
When looking at the most comfortable hiking boots, we take a few things in to account. They can’t be too heavy, have a great fit, need to provide great support, excellent waterproofing and breathability (no overheating/sweaty feet) and have a great sole that provides great traction and and cushioning to not let your foot feel any pointy rocks or sticks.
Winner – Salomon Quest 4D GTX – Once again the Quest 4D’s come out as a winner. The reason? Simply a fantastic boot! Not only are these boots light and extremely waterproof but breathable thanks to the Gore-Tex, but they have rubber heel and toe caps as well as heel foam so your feet aren’t going to feel anything on the outside.
The lacing system along with the higher ankle go together to provide great support. The combination leather/synthetic upper really brings down the weight and makes the upper more flexible than some heavier all leather boots, giving you a shorter and easier break in period and makes them very comfortable right off the bat. One last thing to up the comfort on these boots is the padded, gusseted tongue, which helps relieve lace pressure on your foot, spreading it out more evenly. A fantastic pick for the most comfortable hiking boot for day hikes to multi-day treks.
Boys Hiking Boots/Girls Hiking Boots
There are many considerations that you should make when looking for boys and girls hiking boots that you might not rank as highly for adults. One big thing that adults don’t worry about that kids need to is that their feet size can change very quickly. Also, kids need a boot that is comfortable and lightweight right out of the box, or else you’ll soon start hearing complaints about hurting feet and getting tired.
Consider safety as well by looking for a high traction sole and strong support and lacing system. Lastly, as always, excellent waterproofing and breathability is a must for all hiking boots.
Winner – Hi-Tec Kid’s Nepal Waterproof Junior Hiking Boot – One ingenious feature of the Nepal boot is the Big-Fit sock liner system, which is a removable liner which can be taken out to accommodate growing feet. The upper on this boot is also suede/mesh which has a very limited break in period and won’t be stiff and uncomfortable. The waterproof bootie feature makes this a great choice for kids as well as it can be dried out more easily if he or she decides to go puddle jumping. These features, plus a padded collar and high traction Multi-Directional traction tread make the Hi-Tec Nepal Juniors the best boys hiking boots as well as the best girls hiking boots.
Time to Get Boots on the Ground
Now you have compared the different types of boots out there and thought a little bit about your situation and what sort of hiking you want to be doing and you’re probably leaning towards one pair or another. If you’re still deciding or need more information make sure to look over the more in-depth reviews and guides. If you have any other questions, comments or other feed back you can get in touch on the contact page. It would be great to hear from you!