Best Men’s Hiking Boots In 2023 Reviewed

by jacky chou
Updated on

I've worked long and hard on my men's hiking boots review guide.

Make no mistake... all of these are excellent hiking boots! You can't go wrong with any of them. They are all good buys.

I'm dedicated to making this the best page on the web. So for your convenience, I've also made a comparison table as well as a buying guide.

Since they all receive(d) extremely high Amazon ratings, sorting them by rating was difficult.

So instead, I sorted them by popularity. For your convenience. Starting with the most popular one.


Top Rated Men's Hiking Boots Reviews

1. Propet Men’s Cliff Walker Boot

Propét mens Cliff Walker Medicare/Hcpcs Code A5500 Diabetic Shoe Hiking Boot, Bronco Brown, 12 XXXW US
  • Medicare/HCPCS code A5500 diabetic shoe
  • Waterproof leather, Nylon mesh lining
  • Sealtex waterproof technology
  • Hook and speed lace system
  • Rubber outsole with self-leaning design

That is by far one of my favorite's quotes when I think about camping, so much so that I basically have converted it into my own personal mantra. I'm not normally one to write long boring or flavorful (sappy) reviews about how much I "adore" a product, but it's different with this particular item.

I'm a super outdoorsy kind of man. I enjoy hiking and nature trails.! "Enjoy" is an understatement. It wouldn't be a stretch of the truth for me to say that I was pretty much raised outdoors. Summers on the lake. Exploring the woods with friends, creeping away unsupervised, getting lost and learning how to adapt. Nostalgia (I'm sitting at my desk with a huge grin on my face).

Bear with me, I know I'm taking a bit longer to get to the meat of the matter here, but reminiscing on the adventures to be had in life is really getting my thoughts going.

So yes, I LIVE for the adrenaline rush, the fresh smells, the serene sounds (whether they be of the wind murmuring through the leaves or the gurgling of a creek), that unhinging feeling of freedom and the excitement of discovery. When it's just you and the trail or just being outdoors, there's not much, in my opinion, that can match or surpass that feeling.

So what does this all have to do with Propet Men's Cliff Walker Boot you ask? Well let's just say this, it doesn't leave me wanting for more. This is the perfect boot for general outdoors activities, hiking, climbing, traversing through wet terrain, you name it! I've used quite a few different types of boots on my adventures, but to be honest, none have quite done it for me like this boot.

Just the fact alone that this boot has this flexible rubber outsole with its fresh, avant-garde 'self-cleaning' rubber outsole design allows it to stand out from the average boot. That particular self-cleaning design means that my steps are steady on all types of different terrain. That just brings me right back to that quote from before; not only do I get into my rhythm but with my trusted Propet boots, I can rest assured that my grip will be secure. Excellent traction. Furthermore, some key features are its D-ring (speed lacing closure) hook and loofp lace system which lends for ease and speed in getting on your way and breathable nylon mesh lining. The Propet Cliff Walker Boot personifies its name to the max! This is a sturdy boot that is meant for hiking.

"Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can't fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance."

-- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Don't tell my girlfriend this but, I have a pair in Bronco Brown, but I recently ordered the Black and Brown Nubuck too. I can never have enough. (Wait what? I sound like one of those shoe fanatics!)

But seriously, if I'm on a particular trail that's mucky, this boot is not only equipped with a self-cleaning tread, but also with a Sealtex waterproof technology. It covers my ankle and gives me maximum support for my feet. There is also a thick cushion throughout the shoe. Another awesome thing about this boot is that I can use it for everyday tasks in my backyard therefore making it more than just a rugged athletic boot.

It's safe to say that, I really love these boots. So far they are warm and comfy and I've walked in all ranges of weather in them. One thing I will say though is that they could have insulated the boot. If you're going to be out in the snow with them, there are certain things you should keep in mind. These pebbled leather boots aren't insulated, so if you are going to go on short excursions, because they are waterproof, you can get away with wearing insulated socks. Thick wool socks will suffice. The boot is cut large enough to accommodate the wool socks too. However, if you plan to wear them in the snow for long periods at a time, don't.

All in all, the Propet Men's Cliff Walker Boot does not disappoint. It is sturdy, comfortable and versatile on various terrain types and waterproof to boot (pun intended!). They could have been insulated for maximum efficiency in snowy weather. But nonetheless, to say that these boots are worth their weight in salt, is the understatement of the century!

2. Columbia Mens Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot

Columbia mens Newton Ridge Plus Ii Waterproof Hiking Boot, Cordovan/Squash, 11 US
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot features our lightweight, durable midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return as well as an advanced traction rubber sole for slip-free movement on rough ground.
  • HANDY FEATURES: Treacherous days out on the trail are comfortable and worry-free with this boot's waterproof full-grain leather and mesh bootie construction and its durable mesh tongue for breathability.
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: The Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot features a lace-up closure for an adjustable, secure fit.
  • VERSATILE STYLE: This men's waterproof hiking boot delivers style and durability with its contrasting color combinations and soft mesh exterior.
  • OMNI-GRIP: This multi-terrain traction system matches specially formulated compounds and treads to specific environments. A dual-zone winter tread pattern ensures solid footing on surfaces such as ice and snow.

The Newton Ridge Plus II is a durable and lightweight hiking boot, designed to tackle a wide range of demanding outdoor activities. Its innovative waterproofing technologies, combined with its sturdy leather construction provides you with the confidence you need while hiking. These men’s hiking boots for plantar fasciitis also deliver exceptional support and stability, thanks to the mid-level shaft and the lacing system. When you tie them properly, the triangular D-ring lacing system, combined with the clamshell will lock your feet in position, therefore preventing unnecessary movements. This pair of boots can perform well in a wide range of environments, conditions, and climate. So, what makes this pair of boots amazing?

Sturdy Sole Unit

Ridge Plus II features Omni-Grip Traction rubber, designed to provide grip and traction, regardless of the conditions that you encounter when you are hiking. On the other hand, the compression-molded EVA midsole supplies flexibility, cushioning as well as shock absorption. Apart from its flexibility, EVA is renowned for its stress-resistance. Apart from EVA, these shoes are also equipped with Techlite cushioning, which provides additional shock absorption. Therefore, if you are hiking in an area with uneven terrain, the cushioning on these shoes will be enough to protect your feet, without limiting your mobility.

Breathable and Firm Upper Construction

Since these boots are designed to be used in various hiking conditions, their upper is mainly made of polyurethane and leather. Polyurethane is highly versatile and it has been used to enhance to reduce the weight of these boots as much as possible. Apart from promoting breathability, polyurethane also protects the leather from scratches and water damage, thus making the boots last longer. The leather used has been treated with stain resistance and Omni-shield technology to keep your feet dry, especially when you come across wet conditions during your hike. You can hike through water puddles and the moisture or wetness will not reach your feet. The upper also features portions of mesh, which enhance breathability while reducing moisture inside. And with reduced sweat and perspiration, there are minimal chances of foot odor. Even if you wear these boots the entire day, you will always end up with fresh and happy feet. Removing these shoes or wearing them will not give you any problems since they are fitted with a rear pull-on tab. On the other hand, the padded tongue and collar protect your feet while supplying additional comfort.

Safety Features

Safety remains a priority when you are hiking. As you probably know, something that appears minor like a twisted ankle can severely affect your hiking experience or even lead to further injuries. The good news is that Columbia has put in place the necessary safety features and measures in these boots, to ensure you will have a smooth hiking experience. Apart from being waterproof, these shoes are also equipped with a firm shank beneath the arch. This shank supplies lateral support and stability. It also provides torsional stability, which reduces turning and twisting of ankles, therefore preventing the risk of injuries. And as much as these boots are supportive and firm, they are flexible enough to give you the comfort that you need during your trek. Also, the sturdy upper construction will protect your feet against trail debris. The 5-inch shaft supplies additional protection. As long as you have these boots on your feet, then you don’t have to worry about anything happening to your feet. And if you will not be hiking, you can still use these boots for shoveling your driveway during winter.

Bottom Line

Whether you are hiking on soft dirt terrains or your journey takes you through wet, slippery boulders, these hiking shoes for men will take you there with utmost comfort and confidence. If you are looking for lightweight, durable, stylish and functional hiking boots, then you should get yourself a pair of the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II. With these pair of boots, you can rest assured that you will get value for your money.

3. Dunham by New Balance Men’s Cloud Mid-Cut Waterproof Boot

Dunham Men's Cloud Mid-Cut Waterproof Boot, Brown - 13 4E US
  • Lace-up hiking boot featuring protective toe cap and logo embroidery on tongue
  • Rear pull loop
  • Removable molded EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) and Memory Foam footbed with Stability Cradle

The Dunham by New Balance Men's Cloud Mid-Cut Waterproof Boot is a high-quality product that is guaranteed to make your weekend hike comfortable. The boots have great traction and are waterproof. They are also slip-resistant and are quite comfortable. These Dunhams are one of the most comfortable and cost effective boots that are currently available.

Superior Comfort

The Dunham by New Balance Waterproof boot are the most comfortable hiking boots I have ever worn. The boots have a rubber toe cap. The toe caps ensure that I wear them for hours on end quite comfortably. The Dunham boots have an innovative EVA midsole that absorbs shock as I walk over diverse hiking terrain. The midsole has a fibreglass stability shank which ensures that I have a smoother gait by supporting my foot arch.

Dunham's backpacking boots also have dual density ABZORB inner sole that is lined with mesh and is removable. The fact that the inner sole can be removed makes it easy for me to clean the inside. The best part about it is the dual density inner sole also provides shock absorption. To crown it all up, the boots have a memory foam foot bed which enhances the level of comfort experienced when wearing the boot. I can say for a fact that these are among the most comfortable hiking boots that are currently available on the market. Well, at least in my humble opinion.

My ankles have ample support in the form of a mid-cut collar design. I have a lot of faith in my stability as I confidently go on hikes. The Dunham by New Balance hiking boots have superior rear foot stability that is provided by its integral Graphite Rollbar technology.


One thing that I particularly like about these boots is that they are waterproof. I went hiking with a couple of friends and we encountered some heavy downpour in the afternoon. I stumbled and landed in a large puddle of muddy water. As I manoeuvered my way out, my friends burst out and laughed as I clumsily plodded out of the puddle. Their smiles turned to awe and amazement when they realized my socks and feet were as dry as a bone. The boots have waterproof Nubuck leather uppers. They have a gusseted tongue design that helps the boots keep water and any debris out.

Maximum Traction

I have owned many different pairs of backpacking boots in the last year alone. So far, none of these pairs has traction like this Dunham by New Balance pair. Maximum traction is provided by the TRU-TRAK rubber outer sole which is multi-directional. I studied the boot’s rubber sole just the other day and I could not help but admire the aggressive tread pattern. I guess that’s why my Dunham boots have great traction and grip capabilities. Currently, I can hike over diverse terrain, no matter how slippery, without a care in the world.

High-quality Materials

The Dunham hiking boots have Nubuck leather material on its upper design. The leather is of the highest quality and is tough enough to withstand vigorous hikes. From my experience, I have really pit the boots to the test as I love hiking. So far, since I purchased the boots, I have been on at least 17 hiking expeditions. The boots still look new!

Design And Construction

The Dunham by New Balance backpacking boot is constructed using durable and waterproof materials. I particularly like the way the seams are sealed to ensure that it is waterproof. Its upper section is constructed from full grain leather and this ensures it is durable and lives up to its expectations. Its lace closure mechanism is adjustable to ensure it can accommodate wide feet. I can imagine that wide footed people would really appreciate these boots because of that fact.

Product Dimensions And Specification

These Dunham by New Balance Cloud mid cut, waterproof backpacking boots have dimensions of 14 X 5 X 5(L X W X H) inches. They have a shaft height of 4.5 inches. I find the boots relatively lightweight as they weigh 1.6 ounces.


These high quality Dunham by New Balance boots are available at a very affordable price. The price difference depends on the size of hiking boot available. Generally speaking, the bigger the shoe size, the more expensive it will be. But still very affordable.

Customer Reception

Hundreds of people have given these boots very good reviews on Amazon. Hundreds of people can't be wrong. And, indeed, they aren't!

Final Verdict

The Dunham by New Balance Men's Cloud Mid-Cut Waterproof Boot is a high-quality hiking boot that is robust and durable. They are quite comfortable and waterproof. They are definitely some of the best I have owned so far and they provide great value for the money. I highly recommend this Dunham by New Balance footwear to my fellow hiking afficionados.

  • Pros
  • Waterproof.
  • Comfortable.
  • Relatively lightweight.
  • Cost effective.
  • Adjustable.
  • Great traction.
  • Shock absorbing features.
  • Slip resistant.
  • Durable and robust.
  • Cons
  • Stitching can come apart with time.

4. Ariat Men’s Terrain H2O Hiking Boot

ARIAT mens Ariat Terrain Waterproof � Men�s Leather Waterproof Outdoor Hiking Boot, Copper, 10.5 US
  • ALL-DAY COMFORT: Featuring the ATS technology, the Terrain hiking boots offer durability and all-day comfort; These men’s hiking and endurance boots are prepared to take challenges head on; In addition to being ready to tackle the trail, they’re also stirrup friendly to keep you comfortable on horseback as well
  • WATERPROOF FOOTWEAR: Robust and rugged, the oiled full-grain leather of these hiking shoes for men is made using the Waterproof PRO technology, keeping the water out and your feet dry, even in heavy rain
  • SUPERIOR SHOCK-ABSORPTION: Featuring a lightweight EVA midsole for superior shock absorption and the Duratread outsole for maximum wear resistance and flexibility, you'll stay sure-footed and comfortable; A must have for any rider, hiker or rancher
  • ALL DAY DRY: With the Waterproof PRO on the outside and a moisture-wicking lining on the inside, these men's hiking boots will help keep your feet stay dry from dawn to dusk
  • SCIENCE OF INNOVATION: Ariat excels in advanced technologies to deliver products that outperform in various conditions; Partnering with world-class biomechanical research groups and testing labs, Ariat strives to improve performance, comfort, and durability

Through the many times I have been on hiking trips I have come to learn that it is always paramount to ensure everything is in place prior to starting a hiking trip. This means it is always advisable to use the right hiking amenities. This includes both clothing as well as footwear. One of the most important aspects while hiking is using the right boots. Boots capable of handling different terrains. I have been comparing many different types of footwear in the past few months. I've compared many excellent ones. In the endless barrage of hiking boots that I've tested, I also came across the Ariat's Men's Terrain H2O.

The primary reasons that attracted me to these particular boots include its features, which make these boots perfect for hiking on different terrains. These boots reach up to the ankles. The shaft is approximately five inches up from the arch. As a result they protect the foot and ankle properly. Their upper body is made using waterproof, oiled, full grain leather which makes them very durable. And it also gives them the ability to withstand mother nature's elements, which any decent hiking trail is bound to throw at you. This leather being oiled means that they are water proof. They can be used even in very wet conditions, without the water getting inside and giving you wet feet.

To enhance comfort for its wearers, but also to increase toughness to deal with even the roughest of terrains, these boots have synthetic soles. The soles are so light that you will not feel like you've got extra weight dragging you down. They are extremely comfortable for moving aroundin. Despite being light, the soles are tough. No worries about sharp objects penetrating these babies. They will provide you with optimal protection. These Ariat H2O hiking boots have EVA midsoles and DuratreadTM outsoles. This makes the soles tough yet flexible. As any experienced hiker will know, this is a great thing to have when taking on the more strenuous trails.

On the inside, the Ariat Men's Terrain H2O Hiking Boots have a moisture wicking lining that keeps them dry at all times. This is especially important while wearing the boots during the hot seasons, or when wearing them for long hours. Because at these times, one is usually more prone to sweating. At the front area they have a round toe profile which ensures the toes have ample space. Therefore, they can be worn for long hours without discomfort. The comfort is further enhanced by that the interior is made using tough, yet soft materials. The ATS advanced torque stability technology, which comes with composite forked shank, makes these boots optimally comfortable and tough.

One of the main benefits is the modern technology which was obviously used in the manufacturing of these Ariat Terrain H2O men's backpacking boots. This technology has been carefully used to ensure the boots provide maximum comfort and convenience for anyone who might need a tough but light hiking boot. Being waterproof is another benefit since wearers do not have to carry different pairs of boots with them in case one pair gets wet. Their lightness is also a big advantage, especially when going for long walks. You can walk on these babies for a whole day without experiencing unnecessary exhaustion or discomfort. The fact that their shaft is about five inches, measured from the arch, also ensures that they provide maximum ankle protection.

Despite the many benefits of these particular boots, I still came across a number of issues which people who had used these boots were complaining about. One of these things include that the pull on loop at the back is annoying to some people because it prevents your pants from going all the way down. There were also complaints that the soles are stiffer than in the previous version, giving them a bit longer of a breaking in period.

Keep in mind that these boots were especially made for hiking in different terrains. Their modern design makes them some of the most stylish, yet convenient footwear. Despite the few issues that customers have come across here and there, I conclude that the Ariat Men's Terrain H2O Hiking Boots are ideal for people who love hiking strenuous trails comfortably.

5. Asolo Men’s Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

Asolo Men's Fugitive GTX Light Hiking and Trekking Boots (Wool/Black, 10)
  • The meaning of "V", "GV" and "GTX" in the Asolo style names: V stands for a Vibram outsole, GV stands for Gore-Tex lining with a Vibram outsole, and GTX is for a GORE-TEX® lining.
  • Ideal choice for light hikers and trekkers who demand lightweight and comfort with a snappy design.
  • Duo Asoflex midsole in which two elements are melted together to improve comfort and performance. The first element, constructed of a stiff material benefits anti pronation, anti supination and anti torsion. The second element, constructed with a softer material offers shock absorption while walking.
  • Water resistant suede and Cordura® uppers.
  • GORE-TEX® liners for waterproof yet breathable boots. Outsole is a combination of bi-density rubber bottom for cushion and traction. Shoe weighs 1.52lbs (690gr). You may also like this Camelbak Rim Runner™ 2010 bag Measurements: Weight: 1 lb 10 oz Shaft: 5 3⁄4 in Product measurements were taken using size US Men's 10, width D - Medium. Please note that measurements may vary by size. Weight of footwear is based on a single item, not a pair.

When it comes to hiking boots, there is no way I could pick one single design or brand as the best. The choice is purely preferential but there are just too many good options. However, within the mix you will land some designs that spark no interest at all. Hiking shoe manufactures know that enthusiasts are vey choosy and are guided by unique requirements depending on their taste and activities. Who told you all hiking is alike? People have different ways of making use of their shoes and others simply want to test their capabilities just so they can form an opinion (and write a review) about the design and model. I try out many new shoes and boots all the time. I like to get up close and personal with a good boot. Recently, the Asolo Men's Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots caught my eye. So I decided to give you my take based on the research I have done about its features, benefits, cons and how you can maximize its use.


The first thing that strikes you about Asolo's Fugitive GTX hike boots is the incredible design. It can be tempting to use them for other purposes as well but you would rather stick to hiking. Asolo is a popular brand that offers an assortment of hiking shoes. Some of the renowned pairs in their collection include Power Matic, TPS520 and FSN just to name a few. But this review is for the Asolo men's Fugitive GTX hiking boots. Some of the obvious features you will notice in this pair hiking boot include the following.

Imported Leather

This is of course common with many other hiking boots. Who wants anything other than leather when planning to tread some rugged terrain full of thorns, shrubs, mud, boulders and all the other stuff you will typically find lying around on rough terrains. This boot is made of pure imported leather of high quality, tensile strength and durability. Its textured finish makes it quite hard to scratch and tear.


You do not have to worry about absorbing all the dew and soaking your socks. The leather does not allow any water in, so you can afford to go out despite rainy forecasts. And even if you miss a step while leaping water pools, your feet will remain dry. You'll probably look messy, but at least you'll be dry.

Lug Sole

This is a property that hikers know just how important it is to have in a hiking boot. A lug sole prevents toppling as it absorbs the thrust pressure allowing you to bounce up the hill while maintaining grip, rather than sliding backwards. The layered sole is also very tough and classy.

Classic/Urban Blended Design

When it comes to design, you would rather choose Asolo's collections and it gets no better than the Fugitive GTX for men. It depicts a blend of classic and modern designs, featuring various elements of older boots as well as new enhancements to aesthetics and durability. The tough stitching, various segments of the shoe, long laces that run up to where the shoe reaches above your heel... it all comes together in a perfect boot.

There are other minor features such as padding for comfort (which is expected in any top notch quality hiking boot), a long padded "tongue" that keeps the lace from pressing on your feet. And then there's that awesome logo on the front of the boot.


If you want to make the most of your Asolo men's Fugitive GTX hiking boots, keep them away from extreme heat and make sure to clean the dirt off as soon as you get them off your feet. If you do this, then you will need no other hiking boot for a long time.

  • Pros
  • Many customer reviews say the boot fits perfectly, as expected.
  • Durable waterproof leather.
  • Highly functional lug sole for the hike bounce.
  • Exceptional performance and design.
  • Ideal for tough terrains and all weather.
  • Cons
  • If you frequently expose it to extreme temperature fluctuations, there is a risk of the layered sole peeling off.

Hiking Boots Buying Guide

Hiking boots are one of the most important gear choices that you can make. They literally determine the comfort and quality of your time, when you are out on the trail. Nothing can ruin a hike faster than not having the right pair of boots. The potential of foot injuries is huge. If your boot is not fitting well, your foot will slide around. The boot will not be very effective when it comes to a steady tread. You will also be risking blisters as well as other serious injuries like knee and ankle injuries.

It is therefore important to find a good pair of hiking boots, one that works for you, the type of hiking that you do, and your budget. When it comes to hiking boots, there is such a wide range that you might end up in a dilemma when trying to choose one. On the lower end, there are brands like Timberland, North Face, High-Tec, which are quite fashionable. On the higher end, you find brands like Scarpa, Vasque, and Salomon.

What Makes a Good Hiking Boot?

People have different opinions, on what makes a hiking boot great. Some will tell you it is the durability, others focus more on waterproofing and water resistance, while others tend to concentrate on the weight. Hiking boots are mainly built to provide protection to your feet. They achieve this function in different ways, including: Good hiking boots providing reliable protection on the sides. Most hiking boots are heavy because they contain extra padding, which protects your feet against branches, rocks and stones that you may step on during your hike, and gouge the side of the foot. Some fabric boots come with protective welts, usually half an inch or more from the sole, to offer extra protection.

  • Good hiking boots should have a solid bottom. You should not feel stones or rocks through the soles. Therefore, if you can feel such materials, chances are very high that you will end up with aching feet, especially when after covering many miles on the trail. If you can press the bottom of the shoe with your thumb, such soles are not sturdy enough to provide adequate protection. Moreover, if you can twist its sole, it is probably too soft for a hiking boot. Trails are not like the pavements in your home or the smooth surfaces in your gym. Trails are rocky and rugged. Therefore, you need hiking boots that provide good support, to protect your feet from bruises.
  • A good pair of hiking boots should offer great ankle support. To assess ankle support, just grab the top part of the boot, and try to twist it sideways. If it twists easily, it might not offer the protection level that trails demand. The top part of the shoe should be tough, to secure the ankle in position, and also provide great ankle support.
  • Good hiking boots should be waterproof or they should be easy to treat with waterproofing solutions. If they are not fully waterproof, then they should have the ability to shed water easily and dry within a short period. Hiking with wet boots is very uncomfortable and may lead to blisters. You can also invest in a nice pair of Gore-Tex socks, to improve the waterproofing abilities of the boots, and keep your feet dry.

Types of Hiking Boots

When selecting hiking and backpacking boots, some of the main considerations are where you will be using the hiking boots, weather, climate, terrain, and the style of hiking boots that you are looking for. In terms of styles, there are different classes and categories of hiking boots. Hiking boots are available in four different categories: low-cut, ultralight hiking boots, general-all purpose hiker, heavier-backpacking boot and the heaviest among them is the mountaineering and winter hiking

Ultralight hiking boot

These are designed for the backpacker who wants to cut down on weight during their hike. Most of them are not waterproof. They are mostly lightweight and breathable. Boots in this category will keep your feet comfortable and dry throughout the day. Even if you go through water, they will breathe better, which means that both the shoes and the feet will dry faster. Most of them tend to have aggressive tread, which will keep you going even when you encounter rugged terrain.

Low cut boots are usually preferred by people with ankle injuries. High-cut boots tend to rub on scars and scar tissue, leaving you with lots of discomfort to deal with. Most people also tend to ignore the weight of the boots. There is that unspoken consensus among hikers that 1 pound on your feet, equals 5 pounds on your back.

When you are moving all day and lugging around those heavy boots, you will end up with more fatigue on your foot. That is why people prefer low-cut, ultralight hiking boots, if the trail conditions are not demanding. There is quite a huge difference when lugging around 3 pounds of shoes as compared to 12 ounces on your feet. ultralight hiking shoes enable you to cut a lot of weight, which means you hike longer and faster. You will also end up with more energy at the end of the day when wearing ultralight hiking boots.

All-purpose hiking boots

These are stiffer than the ultralight hiking boots. They provide more support when you go on different angles and terrains as well. Most of them contain a waterproof liner such as Gore-Tex or EVA. Therefore, you are sufficiently prepared for anything that the trail might throw at you. These are tough all-round boots, which can be used in different hiking conditions and surfaces. If you are going for a day or weekend hikes with tough terrain, these boots will do the trick for you.

If you are carrying a lot of weight, you are a heavyweight backpacker and you expect tough terrain, you require an all-round backpacking boot. These are all-leather, which means lots of waterproofing. They also come with Vibram soles, resulting to more traction and stability. These are much wider at the base than a traditional hiking shoe, which gives you guaranteed stability. They allow you to transfer the weight on your back and have greater ankle support, to take care of the weight on your back. If you are hiking on tough terrain, look for boots that have deeper lugs. The deeper the lug, the more traction on the shoes. Most brands angle the lugs differently to give you more breaking and gripping.

Hiking Conditions and Surfaces

Hiking boots can also be categorized according to the trail surfaces. When it comes to buying the right hiking boots, comfort prevails over looks and aesthetics. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous or cute your hiking boots are, if they are not comfortable, then you hike will obviously be miserable. Other issues to consider are durability, stability, water resistance and warmth. Fit is the most important thing, when you are buying hiking boots. You also need to select your hiking boots based on the terrain as well as the weight of your backpack. When selecting shoes based on the hiking surface and conditions, you need to decide whether you will be hiking on a normal trail, rough trail, off-trail or mountaineering.


Mountaineering boots are stiff in nature. Most come with a steel shank. Winter boots contain a snow gaiter for use on snowy conditions. Mountaineering boots also feature ample padding and insulation, to keep you comfortable under the extreme cold conditions encountered in such areas. These are also versatile, and ready to handle anything that you might encounter on the trail. They feature minimal seams, full-grain leather uppers, and excellent traction. Some also contain a bit of insulation.

Most mountaineering boots are high-cut, meaning that they rise above the ankles. With stiff nylon midsoles and full-length shanks, these are too rigid for full-stride or normal hiking. When wearing mountain boots, ensure they are properly broken into, before you hit the peaks with them. The leather can be quite aggressive on your skin, especially if they don’t fit perfectly or they are not broken into, leaving you with bruises, blisters and hot spots. When buying mountaineering boots, select the ones with minimal heel slippage, rocker soles, as well as rubber bands all along the welt, to enhance waterproofing and durability.

Normal Trails

When you are hiking on a well-maintained trail, carrying a light pack, then you should hike with mid-cut or low-cut boots. They are mainly constructed of fabric and leather, or split leather, featuring multiple seams. Such a construction will allow water to seep through. If you anticipate wet conditions on the trail, then you should ensure they have a breathable and waterproof lining inside. You will also need to enhance their waterproof abilities, with Gore-Tex socks, or a waterproofing cream. Just like mountaineering shoes, these also come with stiff soles. They provide better support and traction, as compared to walking shoes. However, they are too unstable when carrying heavy backpacks and hiking on slippery terrains. Wear them with low-cut ankle gaiters, to prevent trail debris.


When you are hiking through a trail that looks almost non-existent, you will appreciate wearing full-grain leather boots, with rigid sole stability and above-ankle support. These types of boots are perfect for long backpacking trips, when you are hauling heavy loads on your back. They provide ample foot protection, yet they are still flexible for shorter strides, a common feature when you carrying a heavy pack while walking on heavy terrain. If you are hiking for high miles, then the shoes will eventually become soft. However, you should expect a length break-in time, due to their rigidity. Off-trail hiking boots also provide superior durability and waterproofing, thanks to their minimal seams and all-leather construction. Most of them are amazingly lightweight, which can be attributed to the newer sole and midsole constructions.

Rough Trail Hiking Boots

If you are more into aggressive day hiking and lightweight backpacking, rough-trail hiking boots are your preferred selection. Most are made of leather and fabric combinations. Some are porous and ventilated, designed for desert hiking conditions, while others come with waterproof and breathable membranes, which makes them perfect for hiking on both wet and dry conditions. Unlike mountaineering boots, these contain half-length shanks. This type of construction gives the sole enough rigidity, to support your feet when hiking on rocky conditions. They are also have a certain degree of flexibility around the balls of the feet. In short, they are a middle ground between rigidity and flexibility.

Trail Runners

Just like their name suggests, these are running shoes designed for the pavements and similar surfaces. They are lightweight and low cut, with an aggressive tread pattern. Most are designed with breathable and lightweight mesh uppers. However, these shoes are not durable. They get worn out fast. Most have thin EVA midsoles, which mean that rocks and other pointed objects on the running surface can bruise your feet. Apart from trail running, they are also used by experienced backpackers, who hike with light loads and have strong ankles. They are preferred in such situations, due to their minimal weight.

Walking Shoes vs. Hiking Shoes

You also have the option of choosing a walking shoe, instead of a hiking boot. Most people prefer these because they tend to be less obtrusive on the ankle and they are more flexible. However, they don’t provide much arch support as you would find in a normal hiking boot. If you want to walk faster or even run on the trail, then you should go for a walking shoe rather than a boot. Walking shoes provide more protection to your feet than trainers do but less than boots. They promote the foot to be a lot more solid, your foot is straight and supported when it walks and there is a lot of even weight distribution through that foot as well. Walking boots are breathable, waterproof and they come with good treads. Walking shoes should not be used for walking long distances, since they don’t have that type of foot support.

Materials and Construction

When choosing the material for your hiking boots, then you need to consider your local area, as well as your preferred hiking conditions. Hiking boots are mainly made of leather, suede and fabric. If you will be hiking in conditions with wet grass, lots of puddles and wading through creeks, then a leather boot is the preferred option. If you will be hiking on a trail without those conditions, then a fabric boot is just fine. Leather is preferred due to its unbeatable waterproof qualities. Fabric boots are available in different materials such as cordura, suede and canvas fabric. One of the benefits of fabric boots is that they are much lighter as compared to leather and nubuck. The whole composition makes them easy to wear, they get to be more breathable and convenient when travelling. There is less weight to carry with you.

Upper Materials

As previously noted, the material used on the upper of the shoe, affects its performance and durability. Performance relates to things such as waterproofing, breathability, and water resistance. Most hiking boots are made of a mixture of leather, mesh and synthetic. However, there are exceptions especially on some high-end shoes, featuring one-piece leather construction. Here are some of the commonly used materials, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Full-grain leather

Full-grain leather is commonly found on high-end, heavyweight and tough boots. It provides resistance against abrasion, as well as durability. Full-grain leather shoes also perform exemplary well, when exposed to wet hiking conditions. However, they are not as light as their counterparts made from synthetic leather and fabric. They are mainly used for backpacking, as well as extended thru-hike expeditions, which require the hiker to carry heavy loads. They are also very reliable on rugged terrain. Full-grain leather shoes require sufficient time to break in. Furthermore, they need regular maintenance, in order to keep the leather in pristine condition. The good news is that your cleaning and maintenance efforts will be reward with durability and longevity. Your lightweight hiking shoes will come and go, as your full-grain leather shoes withstand the test of time. With these, you will not be buying hiking shoes any time soon. Moreover, shoes from certain brands like Danner can be re-soled, thus extending its lifetime.

Nubuck and Suede Leather

Nubuck is simply buffed full-grain leather. This gives it a suede-like feel and appearance. It is water and abrasion-resistant and very durable. Due to their softer touch leather, these tend to be more flexible and ligher, as compared to full-grain leather shoes. However, their interior construction is quite thin, which reduces their durability. However, these are more durable than those made of synthetic fabric materials. They are also fairly flexible, which means that they require a short period to break in. They cost less and dry faster than full-grain leather boots. Most hiking boots on the market are made from a combination of nubuck leather and mesh. This way, they are able to remain lightweight and breathable. Nubuck leather also breathes better than full grain, and comes with a higher scruff resistance.

Synthetic Nylon and Mesh

There are a few brands which are currently producing shoes which are entirely made from synthetic and mesh. Hikers who want to reduce weight on their backpack prefer these. In addition, they are highly breathable and dry fast. Their main setback is durability. They break apart after two to three hikes. However, if you are more into a lightweight shoe and less on durability, these are the shoes to choose.

Other components found on the upper include the toebox, the heel cup or heel counter, a heel padded collar, and the tongue. The toe box protects your toes. Heavy boots tend to provide a higher degree of toe protection. On the other hand, the heel cup or counter supports and holds the heel in position. It secures the heel in position, prevents sideways movements and reduces lift when trekking. Heel counters also provide ankle stability. The padded collars cushion the Achilles tendon and the ankle. They also prevent mud, rocks and other debris, from entering the boot during your hike. The tongue provides cushioning on the front part of the foot. It also keeps dirt and water out of your boots. Most hiking boots come with gusseted collars and tongue.


When you are going for a hike, chances are very high that you will have a backpack, with a considerable amount of weight. This weight is usually transferred to your feet, leading to strain. This is where the midsoles come in. They provide cushioning while protecting the feet against shock and impact on the terrain. Midsoles determine the stiffness of your hiking boot. If you are hiking on a rocky or uneven terrain, then you should use stiff hiking boots. They offer stability and comfort. Midsoles also provided extra protection against sharp materials such as rocks and tree stumps. The main materials used to make midsoles are polyurethane (PU), EVA or a combination of both.


This material is usually preferred for tougher applications. It is firmer and more durable than EVA. However, it tends to be less cushiony, when compared to EVA. However, it handles heavy loads much better. In addition, it protects the feet against aggressive underfoot materials as well as impacts. They also maintain their shape longer, while adding to the overall longevity of the shoe. Polyurethane was mostly used on high-end boots such as Asolo, but its use is slowly spreading to mid-range hiking boots.

EVA Midsoles

EVA is lighter, cushier, and cheaper. Most midweight and light hiking boots contain EVA midsoles. This cushy and soft material absorbs shock from your midfoot and heel, giving you a smooth and comfortable ride. However, EVA materials are not similar. Some are softer than others. If you are hiking for several days on tough terrain, then you should opt for a supportive and firm midsole, instead of excessive cushioning. In fact, those midsoles that are too soft and cushiony, break down pretty fast. Try to find a balance between cushioning density and firmness.


Outsoles serve 3 main purposes in a hiking boot; traction, foot support and enhancing the durability of the hiking boot. Hiking boots are preferred over cross-trainers, due to their superior traction and grip. You can comfortably hike over rocky, steep and slippery surfaces, without losing stability. Vibram is the main material used to make hiking boots. It has dominated the market for quite some time. Vibram produces rubber outsoles, based on the use of the shoe, as well as the brand. Another sole material is IsoGrip 5000. It provides lots of traction and anti-slip properties, especially on wet surfaces. These soles are also guaranteed to give you a minimum of 5000 miles Some rubber soles contain additives such as carbon, design to enhance the hardness of the shoe, especially for mountaineering and backpacking shoes. Hard outsoles also enhance durability of hiking boots.


Insoles play a crucial role when it comes to the fit of the shoe and arch support. If you have raised arches and the shoe has a flat insole, then it will cause you foot pain and other related problems. However, that should not worry you because you can replace them with third-party insoles, which are designed and modeled to conform to the shape and anatomy of your foot. Custom insoles however affect the volume of the shoe. Therefore, you need to determine whether the insoles of the hiking boot that you are purchasing are removable. If they are not removable and you still want to use custom orthotics, then you need to check on depth. Some hiking boots are designed with extra depth, which means that they can accommodate both the original insoles and the custom orthotics, without losing shape, volume and fit.

Toe Bumpers

Another thing to look out for is the toe bumper. Toe bumpers help to repel water as well as protecting your toes. When there are toe bumpers, the fabric does not have to work as hard to repel water. This enables the boot to remain dry longer. Most leather boots also come with a toe bumper, which is good for scuff protection. If you are walking on rocky or craggy areas, or hiking uphill in areas with sharp rocks, the toe bumper will protect the front of the boot.

Size, Style and Fit

Fit is a very crucial consideration, when it comes to hiking boots. Feet are as unique as they come. It is very rare to find two feet that are alike. Feet come in different shapes. What might fit your friend or colleague, might leave you with massive foot problems. It is therefore crucial to try out the shoes for yourself. The general rule of thumb, is to know your foot, whether it is narrow, or wide, whether your have anomalies in your foot shape and such things that can be addressed immediately. If you know your foot shape, then you will save yourself a lot of time going through numerous pairs just trying to find your fit.

When it comes to fit, you should ensure that the middle of the foot is snug and tight. You only want room in the toe box. That is the only place the shoe should be loose. The toebox should be roomy, so that your toes have room to wiggle. They should not be scrunched up front. If you are lucky enough to buy your boots from a physical store, then you should try them out later in the day. Why is this important? As your foot expands during the day, it will be a little bit bigger than it was at the beginning of the day. Therefore, go shopping for boots at around 5 to 6 pm when your foot has expanded to its biggest size.

You should also wear the socks that you plan to wear during the hike. Some people just throw in a pair of athletic socks or running socks, put on a pair of boots and two days later during the hike, they realize that the boots don’t fit as they did initially. Therefore, when looking for a fit is relatively snug from the ball of your foot going back is relatively snug but there is sufficient room for your toes.

This way, you are not risking scrunching up your toes or getting blisters on your feet. On the other hand, if your boot is loose all around, you will get plenty of debris moving in and your foot will be sliding around, which can be quite messy during the hike. Ensure that the shoes you intend to wear during the hike don’t pinch anywhere. Wear the boots in the house for a while.

You also need to consider arch support. A boot with great arch support will give you loads of comfort throughout. You can spend a whole day in those boots and you will not suffer from any aches or pains. However, if you find a good fitting shoe without good arch support, don’t panic. The good news is that there are custom orthotic inserts, which you can buy. Just remove the insoles on your shoes, insert the insoles and enjoy the support provided by the orthotic inserts. There are numerous types of custom inserts currently available, for different foot shapes and foot conditions. Eventually, you will end up with a great pair of hiking boots, which are both comfortable and supportive.

Brands specialize in different ways, when it comes to the width of shoes. Some produce narrow boots while others specialize on wider boots. For a wider foot, you should try Merrell. This brand produces boots with lots of foot volume. Therefore, people with wider feet find Merrell hiking boots really comfortable. On the narrow end, Vasque carries the day. Vasque boots are aggressively narrow. They don’t have a lot of foot volume. People with narrow feet will realize that these fit almost like a glove. Salomon also lies on the narrow side. They are lightweight and narrow and low-volume boots. Keen is another wider-feet boot brand. They make shoes with bigger volume and more padding for hikers with wide feet.

Fitting Tips

When you are buying your shoes in a store, make sure to bring in all the materials that you intend to put in your boots during the hike. The first thing to do is to put both of them on. Leave the laces untied and try to wiggle your toes. Ensure that you can spread your toes evenly, throughout the shoes.

Apart from that, when you are standing in the shoes, toes pushed to the front, you should be able to insert your index finger at the back. Your index finger has the right size to determine whether your shoe has that important extra space at the front. This extra space provides extra comfort and protection when hiking downhill, since your foot tends to slide forwards in the hiking boot.

You can also perform the sensory test, to determine whether you have the perfect fit. Just remove your socks and wear the shoe without socks. Use all your sensory powers, to determine whether there is any discomfort on any part of the shoe. This test is very important especially for the small toes. Some shoes tend to have a narrow toe box, which leaves your toes jammed or pinched. You might not notice this problem immediately, especially when you have two pairs of socks. With the bare foot test, all this will be revealed. Does the boot feel too narrow at the ball of the feet? Is the middle part too tight? This test helps to rule out boots that were not designed for your feet. After that test, proceed to perform the same test with socks on. Ensure that you stretch the socks smoothly over the foot, without any folds. The boot should not feel too tight in any area. Conversely, it should not be too lose on any part. It should have a snug fit. You can easily adjust the sizing of a loose shoe using a thick pair of socks. However, if you buy a tight one, you don’t have any options but to suffer the consequences of aching feet.

If you are a woman, then you should pay more attention to the width of the foot. Most women are used to tight-fitting office and casual wear. However, if you buy a tight-fitting hiking boot, you can have foot problems later. Most shoes designed for women, tend to be narrow, taking consideration of women’s foot anatomy.

However, there are a few exceptions, where the hiker has wide feet. For women in that category, get your sizing right. If your feet run extra-wide and you can’t seem to find hiking boots in the women’s category, then you can try the men’s boots, as a last resort. For example, a woman’s size D corresponds to men’s size C. Pay more attention to the heel area if you decide to go with men’s boots, since ladies have narrower heels.

Another test that you can perform, is gently rolling the balls of your feet. You can also crouch down and bend forward and then check whether your heels are lifting up at the back of the boot. The heel should not lift at the back. If it does, there will be friction, which ultimately leads to blisters.

Most shops that sell hiking boots, understand that finding a shoe that fits perfectly, is always a challenge. Majority are willing to let you go with the shoes at home, so that you can try them out and assess their fit. If they don’t provide the expected fit, then you can return them either for a full refund or for an exchange. You need to note that shops will only accept them back, if they still look “new.” If you venture outdoors with them and they collect dirt and mud, they might not be accepted back. Confirm with your merchant first whether they have a “wear at home” policy, before buying them. If the merchant does not have that policy, then you need to look elsewhere.

Other Factors to Consider

Lacing systems

Lacing systems play a vital role, when it comes to the comfort and fit of hiking boots. However, most hikers tend to ignore this feature. If your shoe is prone to loosening or the lacing system is poorly designed, then you will waste a lot of time on the trail stopping frequently to tighten them. Furthermore, you might even end up with blisters, and hot spots, which is not a pleasant experience during a hike. Laces are easy to fix, due to the numerous replacement varieties currently available.

Most shoes from Adidas and Salomon come with the single-pull speed lacing systems. Although they are quite convenient especially when you are in a hurry, customizing a fit is not easy. You also need to check the quality of the laces. Ensure that they can withstand changing weather conditions and hiking surfaces. You don’t want to end up with split races during your hike, in the middle of nowhere. Modern hiking boots currently have advanced lacing systems, such as locking hooks fitted close to the ankle bend. These hooks secure the laces in position throughout the trek, increasing overall comfort on the trail.

The kind of hiking that you do

Are you going for a short day hike in the park, or are you going for a thru-hike in, which will involve climbing high mountains with a 50-pound park on your back. Those type of things will definitely determine the type of boots that you can buy. If you are going for a short day hike, lasting you from one hour to a few hours, then you can easily do that in a pair of sneakers. On the other hand, if you are climbing a high peak with a heavy pack on your back for several days, then you require something more substantial to support your ankles, your Achilles and your feet in general.


Most hikers, especially beginners go to the market looking for the cheapest hiking boots that they can get. You should stay away from such notions. If there is something you should not skimp on, then don’t skimp on boots. The actual damage that can be caused by a bad pair of hiking boots is astronomical, when you consider the medical conditions and the lost time. Adding $10 or $20 will get you something that is more reliable and can last you several years.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Hiking Boots

Good hiking boots provide protection, support and comfort on the trail, especially when carrying heavy loads. A good quality hiking boot also costs more money. Therefore, it is important to take care of them properly, if you want to maintain them in good condition, and serve for a longer period. Hiking boots are generally designed to handle grit, rock, mud and any other form of debris, which might be present on the trail. However, that does not mean that you just toss them wherever you wish after the hike, and then forget about them. With good maintenance of hiking boots, you can enjoy a great hiking companionship on the trail for many years. Failure to take care of your boots leads to failure within a shorter period than you expected.

Most shoes are ready to wear when they are purchased. Most come with a water treatment on the outside surface, for repelling water and preventing the upper materials from absorbing moisture. The first question is, how often should you be maintaining your footwear? This is not something you need to do every day. A lot of it actually depends on how active you are with your footwear, and the conditions you are using it in.

Cleaning Hiking Boots

When you arrive home from a hiking or backpacking trip, check the boots to ensure there is no sand or any form of dirt trapped in the seams or other cavities. Before any cleaning is done, you need to first remove the laces and the insoles. This will allow them to air properly and dry faster, after the hike. Insoles absorb some moisture. Once they are outside the boot, the moisture will dissipate allowing the boots to dry quickly. This only applies in multi-day trips. Hiking boot experts recommend that leather boots should be air-dried for 24 hours, before wearing them again. After removing the insoles and the laces, it is now time to remove dirt from the shoes. If they are heavily soiled, then you will require a specialist cleaning product, which will remove even the toughest dirt and stubborn stains. For normal dirt, just clean them in lukewarm water. If you use cleaning products, ensure that you impregnate the boots thoroughly after the cleaning. Most cleaning products open up the leather pores. Brush your boots thoroughly to revive the leather properties and to allow them to breathe again. As lukewarm water and soap are absorbed into the leather, they come out with dirt. However, this also exposes the leather, and it needs some protection.

Conditioning the Boots

As noted earlier, the cleaned boots now have open pores, meaning they cannot provide sufficient waterproofing and water resistance. To restore that capability, you need to close the leather pores again. Use an impregnating spray first, when the boots are still moist. Impregnating them prevents water absorption. However, the leather retains its breathability. Waxed and smooth leathers are easier to maintain than suede and nubuck. They are also more resistant to dirt and water. After waterproofing your boots, treat them with Active Crème. As you wash the shoes and remove dirt, you also remove some of the leather properties. Failure to replace these properties using care-cream makes the leather to dry out, and eventually starts cracking. Real leather can only maintain its shape and flexibility, with the right products and proper maintenance.

Maintaining nubuck and suede Hiking Boots

The surface of suede and nubuck leather, becomes shinier and smoother after applying wax cream. Use a wire suede brush to lift the pile again. However, it will not have the exact look as it was when it was new. Gently brushing with a wire brush freshens up suede and nubuck, which had been clogged after applying wax. Smoother leather might not require this procedure. After absorption of wax into the leather, the hiking boots should be treated with water-proofing product again. The waterproofing product usually becomes fully effective after 24 hours or so. You also need to treat the boots the previous day before you set off for your hike. Impregnating the leather maintains its waterproofing and breathability characteristics.

Storing your hiking boots

The best place to store leather hiking boots is in a shoe box or bag, in a well-aired and dry place. Store them with a wooden boot tree, to maintain their shape. Avoid storing your hiking boots inside your car or in moist conditions. They will eventually get mould, which will destroy both the leather and the fabric.

Buying Boots Online

Most people tend to shy away from buying boots online, since they want a physical store where they can try on the shoe. However, they fail to notice that buying boots online comes with its share of advantages. For example, there is a wider selection of shoes online, than you would normally find in a physical retail store or outlet. Online shops also provide sizing tips and information, which will ensure that you get the right fit. There are also extensive customer reviews on online shops, discussing issues related to fit. Such information tells you whether the shoe runs wide or narrow. This way, you are able to get a perfect fit, even without trying the shoe first. Online shoes also tend to be much cheaper, than the price on most retail stores. Furthermore, if it so happens that the boot that you bought online does not fit as you would like, most sellers on Amazon allow you to return the shoe, for an exchange or even a refund of the money. Therefore, don’t shy away from buying hiking boots online. Take advantage of the wider selection and the huge discounts.

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jacky chou


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