Best Hiking Shoes for Backpacking

If you are in a hurry or don’t want to read all the reviews, Keen Voyageur is my choice for the best hiking shoes.

Depending on the terrain and the weather I like to have a good choice of hiking shoes, walking boots or trail running shoes for my many treks.  As I am generally a fair weather hiker I have good experience in buying lightweight hiking shoes that I use all summer long.

Hiking is a wonderful way of exploring the great outdoors, and as I live in a city it refreshes me every weekend when I get out onto a hill and get in a decent long hike.

If I am walking the Camino in summer I use hiking shoes, and I usually take along minimalist sandals to wear in the evenings. These sandals are great, they give my feet a rest and they are incredibly light. For the West Highland Way in Scotland, it always needs to be boots due to the uneven rough paths.  In Ireland the hills are so boggy I prefer boots and gaiters.  Hiking in the Rockies while in Canada I wore mostly shoes as our hiking routes were dry.

Hiking Shoes v’s Sneakers or Runners?

In four words – support, grip, traction, comfort.

There is an argument that trail runners are as good as hiking shoes. There is a convergence between hiking shoes and trail runners. In dry weather with little chance of rocks or in any way damaging my toes I believe that trail runners are a good choice. For long multiday hikes of more than a few days, I prefer the support of hiking shoes.

Sneakers or Runners are great for an easy day in relatively flat tracks. Sneakers are not built to support your foot, ankle and lower leg when climbing up or descending steep tracks. This will result in stiffer legs and sore ankles at the end of the day. Sneakers are not built to protect your toes during descents. The last issue I have with sneakers is that the sole is not good enough for the grip needed away from man-made surfaces and at the same time you will very quickly start to feel all the tiny stones as you hike along beautiful tracks.

Hiking Shoe Support

As long as you buy good fitting lightweight hiking shoes you will not notice the areas where your foot and ankle are being supported. (Shoes should be snug and not tight.) Usually, the best way to understand the support hiking shoes give you is to put them on after wearing sneakers for a few hours. You will then feel the support at the end of your Achilles tendon and around under your ankle and down the side of your foot. Assuming your shoe fits well, you will notice that your foot does not slide back and forward at any time – your foot stays in place whether you are going up or down a hill, (you might get a little slippage on very steep downhills).

Traction and Grip

The sole of your hiking shoe is built for surfaces that are natural and not man made. Hiking shoes have deep lugged soles to stop slippage on almost any surface and they disperse the shock throughout your shoe and provide extra cushioning for your feet.

Shoe Comfort

Walking on tracks made from tiny stones my feet start to feel each stone through the sole unless I have a good quality hiking shoe.

The Top Hiking Shoes

1: Keen Men’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

Keen Men Voyageur Hiking shoes

 

The Keen brand, from the USA, offers a range of quality, sturdy hiking, and outdoor shoes and boots, of which this is one such. It’s made from leather uppers with a breathable mesh lining and has a sturdy and very strong and grippy rubber sole. It’s a very nicely made protective shoe and is waterproof with a protective tongue and lace-up closure. You can buy this good-looking and rugged hiking shoe in a range of colors, and in most sizes up to 17 (US male), and while it’s one of the more expensive on the list we recommend you have a second look at it.

Key Features – US made, large sizes, leather upper, rubber sole, breathable lining

2: ASICS Men’s Gel Venture 6

ASICS Trail Running Shoe

We’ve included this as it is a best seller within the category, but it’s more of an outdoor running shoe than a dedicated hiking shoe. Nevertheless, if you’re comfortable with that, then it’s from a quality brand and is a nice shoe with synthetic uppers and quality, strong leather sole. The rear has GEL cushioning, too, which is helpful when moving at speed. A removable sock liner might appeal to some, but we really think there are better choices on this list for hiking.

Key Features – sporting brand, running shoe, sock liner, tough cushioned sole

3: Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiker4: Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiker

This neat and tidy hiking shoe is from Merrell, one of the leading names in the field, and is a ladies shoe. It’s available in sizes 5 to 11, and is a well-made quality item. Featuring a Vibram sole for added grip and durability, and with breathable mesh construction, it is designed with comfort in mind, and also has a contoured footbed with odour control. Ghillie laces, a carefully designed bellows tongue to deter debris, and seamless overlays add to the appeal of this quality women’s hiking shoe.

Key Features – Merrell brand, Vibram sole, full range of sizes, bellows tongue

4: Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus

This top quality women’s hiking boot combines leather and suede upper with a strong rubber sole for durability and comfort and is available in three colors. It comes with some advanced features including a Techlite midsole for cushioning and weight saving, and the sole is designed for maximum grip. Fully waterproof and a full ankle boot design, a mesh tongue for added breathability and a simple yet strong lace-up closure make for a very nice boot, but be aware it’s not the cheapest.

Key Features – women’s boot, leather and suede, advanced mid-sole, rubber sole

5: Elaphurus Lightweight Mid Trekking Hiking Boots

Elaphurus Lightweight Mid Trekking Hiking Boots

This best-selling men’s lightweight hiking boot is not from a major brand, but nevertheless gets some excellent reviews for what is budget-priced yet decent boot. It’s made from suede with a breathable mesh tongue for comfort and features a strong rubber sole that is designed for added grip. The lining is meshing for breathability, and the lace-up closure and full tongue provide waterproofing. Stylish and available in a selection of colors, this is one for those on a tight budget.

Key Features – budget price, color choice, suede and mesh, rubber sole

6: Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Shoe

 Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Shoe

This is another shoe from Merrell, and we make no excuses for including a few examples from this brand as they are quality shoes. This is a lightweight men’s shoe rather than a boot-fit, and is made from suede leather and mesh for waterproofing, plus it has rubber toe protection built in. It features a foam tongue in bellows style for keeping debris out, is waterproof and lace-up, and Vibram sole for durability and grip. If you want the best you should take a look at these, and they are sensibly priced for quality hiking shoes.

Key Features – men’s shoe, Merrell, Vibram sole, leather and suede upper, breathable

7: Merrell Trail Chaser

Merrell Trail Chaser Hiking Shoe

If you’re into hiking with the family, this is one for the kids. It’s a Merrell shoe, so comes with the quality you expect from a top brand, and has a rubber sole and a suede and mesh upper construction. It has a hook and lock closure system for added comfort and fit, and a removable inner footbed. It’s available in an attractive range of colors and suitable for boys and girls, and can be had in a full range of little kid and big kid sizes, at sensible prices.

Key Features – kids shoe, all the sizes, rubber sole, suede and mesh, great colors

Buy Now

 

8: Under Armour Women’s Post Canyon

Under Armour Women’s Post Canyon

Our last selection is one for the ladies; it’s made by Under Armour and is a very tough ankle boot design that comes highly rated by customers. A leather upper makes for added comfort, durability and keeps the water out, while the rubber sole offers a strong and durable grip. Rubber toe cap inserts provide protection, a storm proof membrane is included to keep you dry, and a strong rubber heel is specially designed for added grip. A nice boot but not the cheapest, though still worth looking at.

Key Features – women’s boot, ankle boot, leather upper, rubber sole, toe protection

9: Timberland White Ledge Men’s Boot

Timberland White Ledge Men’s Boot

Another brand with a strong reputation for quality goods at sensible prices is Timberland, and this is a hiking boot for men that has many fine attributes. It’s an attractive design made from leather and with a rugged rubber sole, is a full ankle boot design for added comfort, and is fully waterproof with an oiled finish. A padded collar and rear pull loop add to the comfort and fit, and it is available in a full range of sizes and a variety of colors. There is also a women’s version. Not the cheapest, but a quality item.

Key Features – Timberland, rubber sole, leather oiled upper, padded collar

That’s our list of the best lightweight hiking shoes, so what else do you need to take into consideration? Let’s have a look.

Important Considerations when Buying Lightweight Hiking Shoes

We are talking about hiking shoes and boots in this review, but with all types of shoe, there are certain considerations to take into account. The following list should cover them all:

Comfort and Fit

Many of the considerations we mention will seem like common sense, yet it is surprising how often people pay too little attention to the likes of comfort and fit. You are going to be wearing your hiking shoes for long periods at a time, so you need the fit to be perfect, and you want to feel comfortable. Too large and your feet will move around, which is bad for your balance as well as inducing blisters, and too tight and you will find things very uncomfortable. Take your time to get the fit right, and choose carefully.

Grip

For any terrain – rough or smooth – you need shoes that give you a sensible level of grip. Hiking shoes will have been designed with this in mind, but you should check through customer reviews and have a good look at the soles too.

Weight

You need to be comfortable not just in the fit of your shoes, but also in the weight. All shoes carry some added weight, but you don’t want to be burdened by needlessly heavy footwear. You want to be able to wear your shoes for a long period without them encumbering you. Check different pairs side by side as a weight comparison, or check manufacturer specifications for details.

Testing

It’s difficult to test shoes comprehensively, but we recommend you do check them out prior to making your decision. You can also – as above – use customer testimony given in online reviews, as this will highlight problems in the main.

Price

Always a consideration is cost. The best advice is to have a look at what is available – hence our list of the top 10 – and set your budget accordingly. As this is an item you are going to need a lot of use out of, and one that will be subject to a deal of wear and tear, it is probably sensible to spend the most you can afford on the best quality shoes.

Shoe Sizing

Be careful with choosing the right size of shoe; it might be prudent to have your feet checked for size, as many people routinely think they are one size when in fact they are not! Also, pay attention to the width, as with walking shoes this is as important as the overall size, and see our tips on comfort above.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing your hiking shoes is a very important issue and one that you should not overlook. Even in the glorious environs of Northern Spain, where you will be walking the Camino de Santiago, you will encounter rain and wet ground, so you need your shoes to be waterproof. Of course, all of those on the list are designed to be so, but some have extra precautions such as specially designed tongues, so check them carefully for the best designs.

Durability

Another point that ties in with all the above: you not only want your shoes to be comfortable, sensibly priced and waterproof, but you want them to last a reasonable amount of time. These are shoes that are going to come in for some very hard use, so check the materials they are made with, and also read the customer reviews for added information.

Soles

The soles of your walking shoes are the part that will do most of the hard work. Many people have their own choice of material for soles – you will find various options including rubber, which is a common choice in many walking soles, and others such as Vibram, which is a rubber sole designed by a company in Italy with plenty of expertise in the area, and a strong reputation.

Breathability

Last but not least we have to mention breathability. You need your shoes to provide adequate breathability for your feet, as they will be enclosed for a long time. The shoes on our list have all been designed with this in mind, so check for added features that may help.

That’s our list of considerations to keep in mind when buying walking shoes, so let’s take a look at the details of the top 10.

Our Conclusion

Finding the best hiking shoes – like all footwear – are a personal choice. We will say that the big name brands – such as Merrell and Timberland – offer quality items and that most of the shoes on this list are great quality and will do the job. We should also add that the price range covered is from around $25 to more than $200, so your budget is going to have an impact.

We’ve included best-selling examples for men and women, so take another look and get some quality hiking boots so you can enjoy your exploring to the full.

Best Hiking Boots

When you are out on the hill or on a long trek, your hiking boots are among the most important pieces in your kit. You need a good pair of boots or shoes to suit the terrain. Some people, for example, prefer shoes for trekking or hill walking, but for me, a good pair of comfortable and neatly fitting boots gives me the support and comfort I need for some of the rugged terrain.

Read our review of lightweight hiking shoes.

It’s the same for walking other trails – even simple cross-country hikes on the Pennine Way in England, or a hike around the Scottish Borders – the choice of footwear is a personal one.

This review is looking at the top 10 hiking boots you can find on the market today, for hikers who want to get the best out of their free time on the trails, so let’s have a look.

Top 10 Hiking Boots

1: Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail

Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail

 

This neatly made and rugged boot from the renowned Timberland brand is a good choice for anyone looking for a strong a proven hiking boot. Made from fully waterproof leather uppers with a tough rubber sole, with patented Timberdry membranes for added protection from the elements, they are designed to be a comfortable fit and not too heavy. A lot of effort and research has gone into the anti-fatigue technology, and these boots come highly recommended by many satisfied users. Well priced in the market, it’s a good all-round boot for the regular walker.

Key Features – waterproof, anti-fatigue, leather upper, rubber sole, great brand

2: Kodiak Women’s Surrey II Boots

Kodiak Women’s Surrey II

For women, having specifically designed boots is a must as it is the only way to get the maximum comfort and ability. These very nice boots from Kodiak – a well-known brand with a great reputation – are well-made and come at a sensible price. Good looking and made from quality waterproof leather with sealed seams and an internal membrane, they feature a secure lace-up closing and a removable memory foam insole. A strong and durable rubber sole gives you excellent traction while a high 6.5” shaft offers complete support, so they are perfect for even the most demanding of the Caminos.

Key Features – women’s design, high shaft, waterproof, removable insole, rubber sole

3: Ariat Men’s Terrain H20

Ariat Men’s Terrain H20

A man’s boot made to a high quality and with the best materials, this boot from Ariat merges excellent technology and quality in the field, and is certainly worth a look. With leather waterproof uppers, finished in a very attractive copper colour, like most men’s hiking boots, this one is available in sizes through 10 up to 14, so they should be suitable for most walkers. A full membrane lining adds further protection against water, and the toughened rubber sole gives great traction. Sensibly priced in what is a very competitive market, this is one for your shortlist if you want quality on a budget.

Key Features – leather oiled uppers, rubber sole, waterproof membrane, wide range of sizes

4: Vasque Women’s Talus Trek Ultradry

Vasque Women’s Talus Trek Ultradry

The Vasque range of hiking boots is very impressive, with a wide variety of different designs and options. This boot is a nice design for women and is good-looking and stylish as well as practical and very capable. The combined leather and synthetic upper is carefully designed to be waterproof, with the UltraDry system – developed by the brand – incorporated for extra protection. A strong and very durable Vibram sole is an added benefit, as is the EVA foam footbed which provides extra comfort for those arduous long hikes. All in all, a very nice boot with some interesting features, available in a full range of sizes at a sensible price.

Key Features – Vibram sole, EVA footbed, fully waterproof, leather and synthetic upper

5: Keen Men’s Targee II

Keen Men’s Targee II

Keen is a US brand with a great range of hiking boots and a reputation for excellent products at sensible prices, and this boot – the Targee II – is a good example of why they deserve that reputation. Made from quality leather and textile uppers, and designed with breathable leather lining within for added comfort, this boot comes with a high shaft – 4.5” – for extra support, and a strong rubber sole for an impressive grip on all terrain. Presented at a price that is very competitive, Keen has many satisfied and loyal customers who will happily testify to the impressive quality and capability of boots such as this one.

Key Features – waterproof, leather upper and lining, rubber sole, high shaft, US made

6: Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent

Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent

Among the many brands that have a strong reputation for quality hiking boots and other sporting footwear, Merrell stands very much towards the top of the list. This woman’s hiking boot, with its quality leather and textile uppers providing excellent waterproofing, is a good example of why you should keep the Merrell brand in mind. A cell-formed tongue and breathable mesh lining add to the comfort, a Vibram sole adds grip and ability, and the specially designed contoured footbed means you can wear these boots for long periods of time without concern. At the price, a great woman’s boot that is certainly worthy of being on this list.

Key Features – Merrell brand, waterproof uppers, Vibram sole, contoured footbed

 7: Danner Men’s Mountain 600

Danner Men’s Mountain 600

Strong, practical and good looking, the Danner Mountain 600 is a typical hiking boot that would make a great choice for tackling the Camino, or for any other challenge across the world. It’s made from waterproof, full-grain leather uppers with a tough Vibram sole for added grip and performance, has a 4.5” shaft for greater support, and is available in a full range of sizes. A fully cushioned, carefully crafted footbed means you can walk for hours in perfect comfort, and with many satisfied customers, this one comes highly recommended at a sensible price.

Key Features – waterproof leather upper, Vibram sole, 4.5” shaft, cushioned footbed, all sizes

8: Camel Crown Men’s Hiking Boots

Camel Crown Men’s Hiking Boots

If you are on a limited budget – as many of us are – yet still want a quality hiking boot that would enable you to tackle most trails, this men’s boot from Camel Crown may be an ideal choice. Simple yet effective, and practical throughout, it is a well designed hiking boot with a strong, waterproof leather upper and a tough rubber sole.  It also comes with a breathable lining for added comfort on those long walks and is a wide fit, so if that’s for you, it’s worth a look. Good boots from a well-known brand at a great price, I think these are worth checking out.

Key Features – leather upper, rubber sole, waterproof, wide fit

9: Salomon Men’s Quest Prime GTX

Salomon Men’s Quest Prime GTX

The sheer variety of hiking and walking boots on the market proves just what a popular pastime this is, and also that walkers are people who are very choosy about the boots they prefer. These men’s boots from Salomon are a very popular choice, and with leather and water-resistant textile uppers, a rubber sole and a 5” shaft for added support, are designed for heavy use. They come with a rubber toe cap for protection and a GORE-TEX breathable membrane for added comfort, and at the price, I believe that they represent a very sensible choice.

Key Features – leather and fabric upper, waterproof, rubber sole, 5” shaft, breathable membrane

10: Ecco Rugged Track GTX

Ecco Rugged Track GTX

 

The last on this list is this fine boot from Ecco, another brand with a wide range of such items, and it is a very good looking boot designed for use on even the most difficult of walking trails, so perfect for the Camino. A strong leather upper and breathable membrane offers perfect protection from water, the tough rubber sole provides all the grip you need, and the 6” shaft offers the ultimate support and comfort for long walks. This one may be among the most expensive on the list, but it’s very good indeed.

Key Features – leather upper, strong rubber sole, breathable membrane, 6” shaft, waterproof

 That’s my list of the ten best hiking boots, so before I give you my verdict, let’s check out some of the features you need to consider when buying your boots.

Hiking Boots Features to Consider

Comfort and Fit

This is the very first consideration you need to make; when you are trying on walking boots, do they give you the level of comfort you need? Do they fit to the point where you are confident you can walk for many miles without discomfort? We all have different sizes and shapes of feet, so it is important to make sure you have boots that are right for you, so take the time to make sure you get a good fit.

Grip

The above listed ten boots are designed for hiking and come with rubber soles – some with a patented Vibram sole. For many people, the latter is the best choice, and what you want is a sole that grips as well as possible in all conditions.

Weight

Hiking boots are not, by their nature, lightweight footwear; they are designed to be tough and to withstand heavy use, so you should expect them to weigh on your feet – but not so much that they become a burden. Across the above ten options, there is no doubt that there are many different weights, so be sure to check them before you buy.

Testing

This list includes links to online shops, yet I do advise you test your boots in person if you can before buying. You can also check customer testimonies, as these will give you an idea of any recurring problems.

Price

We all have a budget, hence price needs to be a factor to consider. My list of ten hiking boots – including both boots for men and women – covers quite a wide range of prices, so I hope that you can find one in your budget. My main advice in this area is to always buy the best you can afford – after all, you want your boots to last.

Sizing

You might believe you have a size 9 foot, for example, but when was the last time you had your feet measured? You would be surprised at the number of people who routinely wear the wrong sized boots, and when it comes to heavy duty hiking boots, this can lead to problems. Make sure you get your feet measured, and ensure that your boots are the correct size.

Waterproofing

Even when walking the Camino, the weather can be a problem, and it might rain even when you don’t expect it to. That’s why all the boots I have featured offer at least a level of waterproofing, and some go much further still. Check the descriptions, and also have a good look at the manufacturer specifications for further information, and you should enjoy many miles with dry feet.

Durability

You not only want your boots to be comfortable, sensibly priced and waterproof, you want them to last a reasonable amount of time. All the boots I have featured are from well-known makers and come with certain warranties; check these out before you buy and make sure you get the best deal.

Soles

The Vibram sole, a patented design from an Italian company, is the sole of choice for many people, yet it is essential to remember that it is a rubber sole, and that all of my choices offer this durable and very versatile material for grip. Check out customer comments for ideas on grip, as you may find some important differences between brands and designs.

Breathability

Your feet are going to be enclosed in a tight space for a long time when walking the Camino – or indeed anywhere else – so you will find that all makers have incorporated their own aids to breathability in their hiking boot designs. You might have your own preference, so make this a priority feature to check out.

That’s my list of important features, so which of the above boots is for you?

Conclusion

With any form of footwear, or other items that are going to be used on the person, the individual will have their own preferences as to what they want in the product, so it is difficult for me to single out one specific men’s and women’s hiking boot for preference.

What I will say is that across my list I have done my best to include the leading brands and best-selling products, so you have a good cross-section to choose from. I recommend you take another look, check out the specifications in detail, and buy a pair of hiking boots that will allow you to enjoy your walking to the best possible level.

1 thought on “Best Hiking Shoes for Backpacking”

Leave a Reply

161 Shares
Share155
Pin6
Tweet