Best Vegan Hiking Boots & Shoes

Certain materials are to be avoided in the best vegan hiking boots and shoes. Leather, wool, silk or cashmere are among them. Vegan hiking boots are made with alternative materials such as faux leather, faux fur, and wool made from plants.

The best vegan boots are the Arc’teryx Bora Mid Gtx is the best option for men. For women is the Astra Lone Peak.

Made from various fibers, some of these materials are even better in wet environments. As a result, hiking during the rainy season is at least as comfortable with vegan hiking boots as with non-vegan alternatives. Apart from alternative materials, vegan hiking shoes also reduce the impact humans have on animals.

women hiking with vegan shoes

What makes Hiking Boots Vegan

There are a few materials that make up the modern vegan hiking boot. But just because I like these materials doesn’t mean I condone cutting corners and offering poor performers. For the best shoes, I have the same expectations as from non-vegan alternatives.

Vegan Leather – is it real?

Vegan leather is as real as it sounds. Most of my hiking shoes were already vegan, I just didn’t know it until I dived deeper into this topic. Faux leather is made from plastics. One of my pairs of boots was so nicely finished with wax polishing and added pores and creases I was sure they were made form real leather. They weren’t.

Faux leather is not the only type of vegan alternative to counting on. In recent years, a lot of research was being carried in the field. It’s no surprise, as only in the UK, there are now over 3.5 million vegans. For example, vegan leather is now made from fruits, as the one which won H&M’s innovation award in 2019. But vegan leather sources can vary from bacterial cellulose found in coconut water to biodegradable materials made from mushrooms to mimic real leather. However, some realistic alternatives include the synthetic mesh, neoprene, rubber, and EVA foam with its variations.

No-go Materials for Vegans

Up to 6% of American consumers consider themselves vegan. As a result, there are a few materials which they cannot count on in hiking boots and shoes. Among them, leather and suede hold a special place. Luckily, there are now many alternatives to real leather and in most cases, they are more affordable as well. Wool is not an option either. If you’re like me, you love trekking in the winter as well and synthetic cushioning is the main alternative to consider.

Some popular shoe glues are made with collagen, which is a type of animal protein. These glues are a no-go as well. Furthermore, some vegans argue that plastics and their derivate materials should be avoided as well. Recycled rubber is the alternative here.

Outsoles and Traction

Just because the hiking boots are vegan it doesn’t mean their characteristics should not match the highest standards. Arguably the most important area of a boot, the outsole needs to be durable and to offer plenty of traction. Various rubbers are used for this purpose and you can rely on the durability of at least hundreds to thousands of miles with leading designs. On average, outsoles on these boots last anywhere between 800 and 1.600 miles. But even the way you walk impacts these figures, so you never know for sure.

Boot Cushioning and Comfort

Cushioning and impact absorption is reliant on the midsoles and the insole. EVA foam cushioning is still one of the true options vegans have as it is the best option in non-vegan boots as well. This foam has a few distinct advantages, apart from shock absorption.

EVA foam is weather-resistant and it does not get damaged easily by UB lights or by water. But this foam is also a good thermal insulator and a real wool alternative. Finally, EVA has low water absorption. If you like to pass rivers and streams with your boots on just like me, you can rest assure your cushioning material won’t have to suffer.

Waterproof Shoe Designs

Plastic, rubber and non-porous materials are used to keep your feet dry. Waterproofing can also be seen as various treatments applied to the boots, such as Gore-Tex. However, I found out a few years ago that waterproof designs don’t stay the same in the long run. Due to wear and tear, they will eventually let some water in, especially if you hike all the time like me.

FAQ

Is faux leather any good on hiking boots?

Faux leather is one of the main alternatives to real leather from animal sources. It is also why many manufacturers use it with various degrees of success. In most cases, you won’t be able to tell a large difference between leather and synthetic leather boots when you wear them.

My hiking shoes are made with a mesh upper, are they durable?

Mesh materials are still very popular on hiking boots. They are known for added ventilation due to their porous nature. But they are also among the materials which are quickest to dry, highly suitable when it comes to keeping the inside of the boots dry.

Can I get insulated hiking boots if I don’t choose wool insulation?

Other synthetic materials can be found in insulated hiking boots. EVA foam is among them. But even synthetic wool can be a good option for many vegans. However, you should always remember that the thicker the insulation, the slower you get due to the extra weight.

Do I need to break in a synthetic upper?

You may need to break in all of your hiking boots. But it should not take more than one or two hikes to have them as ready as they ever will be.

Is faux leather waterproof?

By definition, faux leather is waterproof. Made from polyurethane plastics, faux leather acts very similarly to actual plastics. Water doesn’t penetrate faux leather and as a result, you can count on such materials for hiking boots made to be used in water, rain or on snow.

The 11 Best Vegan Hiking Boots

When it comes to choosing the best vegan hiking boots, I often recommend outdoor fans to have more than a single option to consider at home. However, many hikers only want one pair of boots and any of the following examples can be a no-fuss choice which allows you to focus on your adventure and not on boots’ technicalities.

  1. Arc’teryx Bora Mid Gtx Hiking Boots

Arc'teryx Men's Bora Mid GTX Hiking boots

Characterized by Gore-Tex, EVA, and a Thermo laminated construction, these boots might seem bulky, but they are quite agile. The natural feel of the lightweight boot enhances their agile feel. Foot biomechanics is not impacted by too much weight as a result. I see these boots as a good option on long hikes such as on part of the Eastern Continental Trail or for short and demanding hikes such as Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

Pros

  • Built with an agile profile, suitable for an aggressive and fast pace hiking
  • Made with a synthetic upper to suit vegans’ needs with the highest degree of abrasion resistance
  • Includes a laminated heel cup to keep feet in place even when walking over small rocks
  • Designed with an included toe cap to protect toes against accidents
  • Includes stretchable Gore-Tex bootie liner to keep moisture out
  • quick-drying capacity recommended in case you come in contact with water
  • Added footbed comfort and support based on the third-party OrthoLite insole
  • Extra support based on the EVA foam midsole
  • Made with aggressive 14mm Vibram outsole with multi-directional lugs

Cons

  • No traditional upper tongue to adjust the fit

  1. Lowa Men’s Innox Mid Hiking Boots

Lowa mens vegan hiking boots

I wouldn’t describe myself as a high-tech fan when it comes to hiking boots. But the double injection polyurethane midsole of the Lowa boots does a great job to absorb shocks in the crucial zones of the heel and the ball of the foot.

Pros

  • Made with synthetic materials and insulation, suitable for vegans
  • The impressive rebound based on the injection molding is valuable after a few hours of hiking
  • Made with a Gore-Tex lining ensures your feet stay dry longer
  • Strong classic lacing allows a good fit which can be adjusted further with the padded tongue
  • Made with shock absorption zones, the hiking boots are comfortable on rocky trails
  • Based on a standard 10mm drop which reduces knee and low back pressure
  • Mid cut design is made to protect the ankle and I use such boots on highly uneven surfaces
  • Available in half sizes to allow better toe spread
  • Included midsole frame to help guide the foot and act as a stabilizing platform
  • Made with proven third-party NXT stable outsole (used by Nike and Under Armour)

Cons

  • I would recommend going half a size up due to the narrow forefoot

  1. Vivobarefoot Primus Swimrun Boot SG

vivobarefoot hiking shoes

I’m sure the vegan in you loves that these boots are made from recycled plastic bottles. But they are not a simple marketing campaign on paper as they offer top performance and reliability as well. The aggressive profile of these boots allows you to tackle slippery slopes and their roll-up design lets you pack them in a backpack pocket when heading home from a hike.

Pros

  • Made from recycled plastic bottles and neoprene
  • Made with a textile ankle collar for support with unrestricted mobility
  • Includes a multi-ply mesh upper which is made to repel water
  • I like the drain zones across this boot which clears water quickly
  • If you hike in muddy areas, the large lugs of the outsole are made to avoid clogging as much as possible
  • The materials of the upper have been tested to resist punctures, as a result, you can hike in dense woods as well
  • Included heel pull tab to fix the neoprene ankle collar faster
  • Made with upper overlays to resist abrasion
  • Fully waterproof design won’t stop you from hiking when weather changes

Cons

  • If you don’t like Nike’s Dynamic Fit Collar, you won’t like Vivobarefoot neoprene collar

  1. Vivobarefoot Magna Trail, Women’s Vegan Multi-Terrain Hiking Shoe

vivobarefoot Magna Trail, Womens Vegan Multi-Terrain Hiking Shoe with Barefoot Sole & Thermal Protection

These multi-terrain hiking shoes come with that barefoot experience many women enjoy out in nature, as their name suggests. I’m sure that if you’re new to barefoot shoes, the transition is going to be easier with the Magna Trails as they have a mid-ankle boot design and they are all vegan.

Pros

  • Elegant design available in black, Indian teal, and pink
  • Made with a multi-terrain outsole which is used for hiking, walking or even as casual shoes
  • Enhances the barefoot feel allowing you to feel the ground better
  • Features a no-sew construction which I only value when I want to avoid skin rashes
  • Made with a removable thermal insole which you can use depending on temperature
  • Based on water-repellent nylon, seen on a few vegan-friendly shoes
  • Includes multi-direction lugs for traction on various surfaces
  • Allows you to roll-up the shoes to save luggage space when traveling
  • Slightly better thermal protection with thinner 3.5 layers of insulating foam and reflective foil

Cons

  • Due to the shorter outsole lugs, you should not expect top traction on soft muddy terrain

  1. Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neoshell Trail Running Shoe

Altra Lone Peak Trail Running and Hiking shoes

If you love long hikes you probably also love plenty of space for your toes to spread out. The third edition Altra Lone Peaks are great for this purpose. Apart from its vegan-friendly materials, the shoes also feature zero drops. Even if you only like a natural barefoot experience on some hikes, it might be worth ditching the 10mm drop alternatives from time to time.

Pros

  • Made for neutral and underpronation
  • Made with thick cushioning under the heel, mainly suitable for shock absorption
  • Zero drops neutral foot position favors long hikes of around 10 miles per day
  • The upper is made with mesh which I like for its breathability and unmatched lightweight feel
  • Removable 5mm insole allows you to add your orthotics if needed
  • Based on EVA cushioning, the comfort of the shoes is above average due to its rugged profile
  • You can count on the sticky outsole rubber to stay on your feet while going downhill
  • Available in half sizes, this shoe allows women to find just the right toe spread room

Cons

  • If you have thicker ankles, you might want to jump over the shoe’s men’s version for a better fit

  1. Mammut Women’s T Aenergy GTX High Rise Hiking Boots

Mammut Women's T Aenergy GTX High Rise Hiking Boots

Made with women-specific extra cushioning, the GTX High Rise boots are suitable for hiking in demanding conditions. One of the issues I have with heavy-duty hiking boots is just how bulky they feel. But Mammut’s design doesn’t feel too heavy at 1.022 grams per pair.

Pros

  • Suitable for all types of demanding trails which include multi-day hikes
  • Based on a Vibram outsole with aggressive lugs and added grooves for flexibility
  • Features a 2-zone lacing closure for a tight fit, up to the ankle
  • Upper made with overlays to resist abrasion, especially in the forefoot
  • If you’re planning to use them on snow, you can rely on their waterproof protection
  • Includes a practical tongue loop for quick fit adjustments

Cons

  • Torsion is not the strong point of the shoes and they could see improved flexibility

  1. Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Women’s Trail Running Shoes

Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Women's Trail Running Shoes

While I’m not the fastest trail runner, there are times when I just put by boots in the backpack and go for fast shoes to get to my daily finish line faster. This Altra design has nothing to do with animals and everything to do with support on climbs and descents.

Pros

  • Made with synthetic and rubber materials so that it meets vegan criteria
  • Includes a thick EVA platform which is made by injection and which acts as a sole shock-absorbing unit
  • Features lugs of various shapes to maximize traction on multiple surfaces
  • Plenty of free space between lugs to avoid dirt buildup
  • Made with a synthetic multi-layered mesh upper for added breathability
  • A few overlays help keep the upper in place better, especially with lateral movements
  • Thick padding around the collar should help you get rid of all pain in the Achilles’ tendon
  • Designed with a forefoot overlay to avoid early damages to the shoes
  • If you have wide feet, these shoes can keep you running for longer

Cons

  • If you have flat feet, you might need to purchase your insoles to avoid pain on long runs

  1. Discovery Expedition Sochi Women’s Boot

Discovery EXPEDITION Sochi Women's Rugged Outdoor Mid Hiking Backpacking Boot

 

Almost all of my boots were also chosen according to how they look. This can certainly be a criterion for you as well as the Discovery boots are all about the details. With visible stitching on the upper and successful use of multiple blue and aqua nuances, these boots are made to look fantastic. Their very narrow profile also means the looks are based on a fast boot.

Pros

  • Since not all hikers are the same, these boots are made specifically for those who want to walk fast
  • A narrower profile also means you need to go half a size up to find a good fit
  • Made with a synthetic upper, the boots feature distinct contrast overlay stitching which also gives them structure
  • High ankle collar design means they have a stabilizing role for your feet
  • A sock-like feel best describes the inside of the boot, perfect for longer treks
  • If you prefer a wider fit around the ankle, you can simply unlace the top portion of the boot
  • The outsole of these boots is rugged as it has a stabilizing role

Cons

  • These boots do not match their narrow profile with a flexible outsole

  1. Merrell Men’s Capra Bolt Mid GTX High Rise Hiking Boots

Merrell Men's Capra Bolt Mid GTX High Rise Hiking Boots

 

Mesh and other synthetic materials are used in this boot. Made to deal with all types of mountain trails, they can be one of the options to consider if you like a bit more breathability in the foot. With 4mm lugs, it’s highly likely you’d consider them for most of your hikes.

Pros

  • Made with a versatile design which suits all types of hikes
  • Based on long 4mm lugs on the outsole, these boots are particularly useful for added grip
  • Made with mesh and synthetic materials, the upper is a bit lighter than what you’d expect from such boots
  • One of the rare comforts features seen in this boot and hard to match by others is the included air cushioning in the heel
  • Added protection pads in the midsole also work to improve cushioning
  • Molded arch support recommends the boots for those with high arches with no custom insoles
  • The foam cushioning of the boots is treated further to prevent odors
  • Added adjustment loop on the padded tongue
  • Reinforced forefoot and heel areas to protect against abrasion
  • Thick laces specifically made for a tight fit

Cons

  • Unfortunately, you will not be able to match these boots to any outfit as they’re only made in one color

 

  1. Merrell Women’s Glove 4 Trail Runner

Merrell Women's Glove 4 Trail Runner

Running, in general, doesn’t need any type of special gear. Trail running is demanding, however. Good trail running shoes can make a difference when it comes to speed, time performance, and safety. Some of my favorite trail running shoes are the ones which give me a sense of safety which is based on the good grip. This is also the case of the Glove 4 Trail Runner.

Pros

  • Available in 7 colorful designs to suit all types of running clothes
  • Fully vegan and based on synthetic materials with a rubber outsole
  • The upper is made with mesh materials all-around for the best breathability
  • I like the overlays which connect to the lacing creating holding the midfoot in place
  • Narrow on the feet, suitable for running at different tempos
  • Designed with trail protection pads on the midsole which disperse shocks
  • Made with a sticky Vibram outsole
  • Sufficient room for the toes to spread out comfortably
  • Great cushioning if you don’t have special requests for low arches
  • Breathable cushioning around the ankle to delay sweat as long as possible

Cons

  • The thin outsole needs more durable rubber on the ball of the foot

Final considerations

Among all of these options, the Arc’teryx Bora Mid Gtx is the best option. It has a more traditional feel compared to the Vivobarefoot Primus Swimrun Boot Sg boots, which are great as well. However, these two are significantly different. The Arc’teryx Bora Mid Gtx boots are dominated by leading characteristics such as waterproofing and an incredible fit based on the 3D Ortholite insole. On the other hand, the Vivobarefoot boots are made for versatility and a more natural method of hiking where you feel the ground more.

If you don’t need vegan check out these:

With an outsole which allows you to brake instantly, even on descents, the Arc’teryx Bora Mid Gtx boots can be used for all types of hikes. Most importantly, they only use vegan materials for the upper and the outsole. The boots still protect the feet against water even with vegan-friendly materials. Furthermore, the Thermo laminated construction of the boots is specifically known to be abrasion-resistant. This is why I rely on similar materials even in the most demanding hiking or trekking conditions.

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