Mountaineer on a ridge.

The 7 Best Hiking Shoes: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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Hiking shoes are a critical part of any outdoor enthusiast’s gear list. They provide underfoot support, keep your feet comfortable and dry, and offer traction when traveling over steep terrain. Choosing a pair of hiking shoes is a big task, however, and we understand how difficult it can be to find the pair that’s best for your needs.

To help you out, we’ve created the ultimate guide to the best hiking shoes, complete with reviews of some of the best hiking shoes on the market. We’ll also discuss the ins-and-outs of choosing hiking shoes so that you can be confident with your big decision. Let’s get to it!

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Hiking Shoes

The Best Hiking Shoes

Preview
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
adidas outdoor Men's Ax2 Hiking Shoe
KEEN Women's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Product
Merrell Moab 2 Vent
Adidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 Hiking Shoe
KEEN Women's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Weatherproof
Breathable mesh lining
No
KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane
Weight
1 lb 15 ounces
30 ounces
100% Waterproof nubuck leather
Sole
Vibram TC5+ sole
Rubber sole
Rubber sole
Preview
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
Product
Merrell Moab 2 Vent
Weatherproof
Breathable mesh lining
Weight
1 lb 15 ounces
Sole
Vibram TC5+ sole
Preview
adidas outdoor Men's Ax2 Hiking Shoe
Product
Adidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 Hiking Shoe
Weatherproof
No
Weight
30 ounces
Sole
Rubber sole
Preview
KEEN Women's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Product
KEEN Women's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Weatherproof
KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane
Weight
100% Waterproof nubuck leather
Sole
Rubber sole

Hiking Shoe Reviews

We took a deep dive into the top hiking shoes available so you don’t have to. Here are our picks for the best hiking shoes out there.

Merrel Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe


The Merrel Moab 2 Vent hiking shoes are veritable stalwarts of the hiking shoe industry. Comfortable and versatile, the Moab 2 feel light and bouncy on the feet, right out of the box.

They’re made with a mix of suede leather and mesh to provide a unique blend of durability and breathability on the trail. The Moab 2 also feature a Vibram TC5+ rubber outsole with a fantastic 5mm lug depth for excellent traction. If that wasn’t good enough, a molded nylon arch shank and a blended EVA contoured footbed provide ample arch and hell support as you walk.

The Moab 2 are not waterproof, so they’re best used in dry conditions like what you’ll find in the desert. That being said, Merrel makes a waterproof version of the Moab 2s for people who want to use the comfortable shoe they know and love in wet conditions. They even have a mid-top version of the Moab 2for people who need more ankle support. What more could you want?

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Highly breathable
  • Comfortable right out of the box
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Minor durability concerns with long-term use
Sale
Merrel Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
1,302 Reviews
Merrel Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
  • Performance suede leather and mesh upper
  • Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out. Molded nylon arch shank
  • Protective rubber toe cap, Breathable mesh lining
  • 5mm lug depth

The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX

The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX is a set of durable and supportive waterproof hiking shoes. Built with a compression-molded EVA midsole and an ESS midfoot shank, the Ultra 109 provide both cushioning and underfoot support, which is highly appreciated on steep down trails.

The Ultra 109’s uppers are made with a mix of breathable mesh and a water-resistant-treated leather fabric for comfort and style. Plus, the Ultra 109s are made with Gore-Tex waterproof liners, which have long been known as the gold standard in the outdoor industry.

These shoes are designed for trail runners and enthusiastic backcountry hikers, alike, so they might be an excellent choice for anyone who needs stability and support as they charge up and down hills.

Pros

  • Very supportive underfoot
  • High-quality Gore-Tex waterproof membrane
  • Plastic toe cap for protection from rocks and trail debris

Cons

  • Concerns about long-term durability on rough trails
Sale
The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX
202 Reviews
The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX
  • For maximum protection underfoot and subtle pronation correction, the Ultra 109 GTX from The North Face gives you stability and traction when blazing down slick, uneven trail.
  • The North Face
  • Zinc Grey/Pompeian Red

Adidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 Hiking Shoe


The Addidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 is a trail running shoe that can double as a quality hiking shoe for people who enjoy light and fast ventures into the mountains. These shoes are both light and highly breathable, so they’re a fan favorite of people who enjoy high octane outdoor activity.

The Ax2 are built with a stiff and tall outsole that provides plenty of traction on wet and muddy terrain. At the same time, the shoes’ upper is light and breathable, which is great for staying comfortable as you move. A potential downside to this lightweight upper, however, is that the shoes’ lacing system doesn’t really seem to stabilize the foot very well, which might be a problem for people who need a lot of support from their shoes.

These shoes are moderately water resistant, especially if you frequently apply a generous coating of DWR treatment to the uppers to help water bead off of the fast-drying fabric. Ultimately, the Ax2 provide ample traction in muddy conditions, though they are perhaps best suited for people who don’t need or want much support from their hiking shoes.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Stiff outsole and great traction

Cons

  • Lacing system doesn’t stabilize foot
  • Don’t have much foot support
Sale
Adidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 Hiking Shoe
1,526 Reviews
Adidas Outdoor Men’s Ax2 Hiking Shoe
  • Sockliner: molded sockliner to enhance comfort and fit
  • Midsole: lightweight EVA midsole for long term cushioning
  • Outsole: super high traction rubber for optimal grip in wet conditions
  • 5mm lug height

Keen Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe


Designed specifically for adventurous women with a penchant for challenging terrain, the Keen Women’s Targhee II are ready for whatever conditions you throw at them. Made with a waterproof nubuck leather upper and Keen’s proprietary KEEN dry waterproof breathable membrane, the Targhee II hold up well in wet weather and can handle minor stream crossings when necessary.

Plus, the Targhee II have a contoured heel to help keep your foot in place as you move, as well as an ESS shank for underfoot stability. Their outsole is made with non-marking rubber and features 4mm multi-directional lugs for traction. If that wasn’t good enough, the Targhee II even have a hydrophobic mesh lining with a Cleansport NXT treatment to provide natural odor control, even after days on the trail.

Keen is a well known and reliable hiking shoe brand, and the Targhee II are one of their most classic offerings. It’s important to note, however, that Keen’s shoes tend to run quite wide, so the Targhee II are best for dedicated hikers with slightly wider than average feet.

Pros

  • Durable materials
  • Supportive underfoot
  • 4mm lug outsole provides ample traction
  • Natural odor control fabrics

Cons

  • Not good for people with narrow feet
Sale
Keen Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
1,284 Reviews
Keen Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
  • Cleansport NXT for natural odor control
  • 4mm multi directional lugs. Care instructions - To clean it is recommended to use a leather cleaner and conditioner
  • Torsion stability ESS shank
  • Waterproof nubuck leather upper

Salomon Men’s X Ultra Prime Hiking Shoe


The Salomon Men’s X Ultra Prime are a hiking shoe that combines performance and style. While many hiking shoes sacrifice aesthetics for technical performance, the folks at Salomon understand that to hike well, we need to look good and feel good, too.

The X Ultra Prime feature a lightweight and breathable mesh and fabric upper that’s highly abrasion-resistant for daily use on the trail. Plus, they have a protective toe cap to help prevent injuries to your foot and a heel cap to provide rearfoot stability as you move.

If that wasn’t good enough, the X Ultra Prime feature a high-traction Contagrip outsole and a molded EVA midsole with an injected shank and Salomon’s advanced chassis system for superior foot stability on difficult terrain. Ultimately, the Salomon X Ultra Prime hiking shoe are a great option for anyone who needs a technical shoe that performs as well as it looks.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Durable fabric uppers that are light and breathable
  • Superior stability and traction

Cons

  • Can be a bit too stiff for some people
Sale
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Prime Hiking Shoe
497 Reviews
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Prime Hiking Shoe
  • Low-top hiker featuring breathable mesh with strategically places overlay reinforcements
  • Advanced Chassis Technology stability for mountain propulsion terrain
  • OrthoLite cushioned insole
  • Salomon 2 year limited warranty

Vasque Men’s Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoe


The Men’s Mantra 2.0 is Vasque’s most stable and supportive hiking shoe. Made specifically for frequent hikers who prefer the mobility and versatility of a hiking shoe, the Mantra 2.0 are nimble without sacrificing support.

The Mantra 2.0 are made with a 1.8mm waterproof nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant mesh upper. They also feature a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable liner for extra protection in wet conditions. A dual density EVA footbed and a molded polyurethane midsole also provide support and cushioning as you speed up the trail. Finally, a Vibram Nuasi XSTrek outsole offers ample traction on a variety of challenging types of terrain.

Designed to be both stable and versatile, the Mantra 2.0 might be a great option for any hikers who value traction and support above all else.

Pros

  • Very stable and supportive
  • Great traction with a Vibram Nuasi XSTrek outsole
  • Waterproof nubuck leather upper and Gore-Tex liner

Cons

  • Relatively heavy and stiff
Sale
Vasque Men’s Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoe
795 Reviews
Vasque Men’s Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoe
  • Low-cut hiking shoe with the same stability and grip of a backpacking boot
  • 1.8mm Nubuck leather upper with abrasion resistant mesh for breathability and durability
  • Speed lacing system for comfortable fit and performance hiking
  • Dual Density EVA footbed

Columbia Men’s North Plains II Hiking Shoe


Designed to be rugged, functional, and affordable, the Columbia North Plains II is a durable hiking shoe for a variety of trail conditions. Featuring a durable leather, webbing, and textile upper and a Scratch rubber toe cap, the North Plains are ready to handle rough trails and nasty conditions.

These shoes also feature a protective Omni-Tech waterproof liner for when the weather doesn’t cooperate. A Techlite midsole provides all-day comfort and cushioning on rocky trails to help you keep going at the end of a long day. Finally, the North Plains IIs Omni-Grip non-marking rubber outsole has deep lugs for superior traction on muddy trails.

The North Plains II are designed for hikers who won’t settle for second best, but who also don’t want to spend their life savings on a pair of shoes. Thus, if you’re looking for a pair of durable hiking shoes that don’t break the bank, the North Plains II might be for you.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable upper fabrics and materials
  • Waterproof breathable liner
  • High-traction outsole

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
Sale
Columbia Men’s North Plains II Hiking Shoe
263 Reviews
Columbia Men’s North Plains II Hiking Shoe
  • Omni-Grip non-marking traction rubber.
  • Techlite lightweight midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return.
  • Leather, webbing, and textile upper.
  • Scratch rubber toe cap for durability and protection.

Hiking Shoes Buyers Guide

A person in blue jeans and brown shoes.


Wearing the wrong pair of shoes on a hike is a surefire way to ruin your day. Sore feet, jammed toes, and blisters are just some of the many ailments that can come your way if you’re not careful when choosing the right pair of hiking shoes for your next adventure.

Although hiking shoes may seem simple enough (they’re just shoes, right?), gear manufacturers actually pack a whole lot of technology and innovation into your new pair of kicks, so it’s worth taking the time to learn more about what you’re spending your hard earned money on. Thus, before you go out and drop some serious change on a pair of hiking shoes, there are a few things you ought to know to ensure that your shoes are a perfect match.

Here are a few things you should keep an eye out for when buying hiking shoes:

Comfort

Why wear hiking shoes that aren’t comfortable? Sure, you might be able to handle wearing some uncomfortable heels or dress shoes for a few hours for a fancy dinner, but from personal experience, we can assure you that this same mentality does not translate well to the trail.

Your hiking shoes should be comfortable and there are no two ways about it. If a pair of hiking shoes has all of the other features that you want but isn’t comfortable, don’t get them. We can assure you that a pair of shoes that feels uncomfortable in the climate controlled setting of a retail store will not feel any more comfortable after wearing them for 12 hours on a steep and rocky trail.

It’s also worth noting that different footwear manufacturer’s shoes fit completely differently, so if you’re struggling to find a comfortable pair of boots from one company, try switching brands. You may just find that there are one or two brands of hiking shoes out there that fit you best.

Weight

The last thing you want while hiking is to be carrying around extra weight in your pack for no reason. While you’ll inevitably have to carry some gear – even if it’s just an extra layer, water, and a snack – there’s no benefit to lugging around extra pounds unless you’re training for some big objective.

The same is true when it comes to shoes, but people seem to forget that the weight we carry on our feet is as – if not more – important than the weight we carry on our back. In fact, heavy shoes can feel even more burdensome than a heavy backpack because we have to lift our feet, and our shoes, for that matter, up every single time we take a step.

Thus, lightweight hiking shoes are often a great investment, especially for hikers who are trying to move quickly over difficult terrain. The only downside to some lightweight hiking shoes is that they are often made with less durable materials that tend to breakdown more quickly than those found on heavier shoes. But, as with everything, this is a trade-off, so you need to decide what features are most important to you.

Traction

Hiking shoes with good traction can make a massive difference in wet and muddy terrain. Especially if you’re not sure on your feet or if you frequently venture into high consequence terrain, you don’t want to get stuck with hiking shoes that have the traction capabilities of bedroom slippers when you’re out on the trail.

Traction quality varies significantly from hiking shoe to hiking shoe and there’s no standard for measuring “traction” in the footwear industry. Thus, the best way to get an idea of a shoe’s traction capabilities is to physically look at its outsole.

Shoes with larger lugs (the bumps in a shoe’s rubbery outsole) that are deep and spaced farther apart tend to provide the most traction in muddy terrain. These shoes also tend to shed mud more easily, which is helpful when trekking through wet conditions.

Versatility

If you like to travel, you’re probably going to want hiking shoes that work well in a variety of different conditions. Versatility can be an important aspect of hiking shoes, depending on the terrain you like to hike in.

For example, if you’re the type of person who really only hikes in their backyard mountains of North Carolina, you might not really need to look for shoes that will also perform well in Alaska or Scotland. Instead, you can focus on finding shoes that can handle muddy and rocky woodland areas. On the other hand, if you like to spend time hiking in a variety of different places, you might want to get a pair of hiking shoes that can handle a diversity of conditions.

Support

Hiking shoes, by design, tend to offer minimal ankle support because they usually feature a low-cut shape. This doesn’t mean, however, that hiking shoes provide no support, only that they provide significantly less support than a heavy, high-top mountaineering boot might.

While wearing a ski boot-like shoe will undoubtedly help prevent ankle sprains, they are not a practical choice for day hiking footwear unless you really dislike your feet. Fortunately, much of the support from our ankle actually comes from the underside of our foot.

This means that finding a shoe with a durable and shock absorbing midsole (the cushy part of the shoe between the outsole and your foot) and a supportive insole can make a huge difference in how much support you have. Plus, if a hiking shoe has a low-quality insole, you can always swap it out for a more supportive version, which you can get custom made by a podiatrist or buy from retailers.

Water resistance

If wet feet and wet shoes really bother you, then you might want to consider getting a pair of waterproof hiking shoes. Waterproof hiking shoes are usually made with some sort of waterproof breathable liner, such as Gore-Tex or eVent. These liners help keep water out of your shoe while also allowing your sweat to escape as you hike. Waterproof shoes also usually have a durable water repellant (DWR) treatment, which helps your shoes shed water for maximum breathability.

There are two main downsides to waterproof hiking shoes, however. First, since hiking shoes tend to be low-top, it’s actually quite easy for water to sneak its way into your shoe through the hole around your ankle. This is especially common during river crossings and when stepping into unexpectedly deep puddles.

Unfortunately, waterproof liners are as good at keeping water out as they are at keeping it in. Thus, waterproof hiking shoes tend to take a long time to dry out after they get wet.

The other drawback to waterproof hiking shoes is that they are often more expensive than non-waterproof options. Many footwear manufacturers will give you a choice between waterproof and non-waterproof hiking shoes of the same model, but you’ll almost always have to pay more for waterproof shoes. That being said, shoes made with Gore-Tex and eVent tend to be the most expensive, so if you’re on a budget, you can opt for a company’s proprietary waterproofing system instead.

Durability

When you buy a new pair of hiking shoes, you hope that it will last for many adventures and hikes to come. However, some hiking shoes are more durable than others, so while some pairs will last you a decade, others won’t make it to next summer.

Usually, durability is a factor of material quality and craftsmanship, so high-quality materials will often last longer than cheaper options. Of course, you’ll often have to pay more for these higher-quality shoes, but if they last longer than other options, it just might be worth it in the long run.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, choosing a pair of new hiking shoes is no easy task. There are many different options to choose from, each proclaiming to be the best on the market. To find the pair that’s right for you, it helps to make a list of your wants, needs, and desires for your hiking shoes. Prioritizing what you need in hiking shoes can help narrow down the playing field to a more manageable number of contenders.

At the end of the day, it’s important to choose a pair of hiking shoes that’s comfortable after miles and miles of walking. Your hiking should also be practical and functional in whatever terrain you like to adventure in, so be sure to keep this in mind as you find a pair of hiking shoes that’s best for your needs. Happy hiking!

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