We can’t wait to grab our best hiking boots and head for the trails this summer. We won’t be alone either. After a long year dominated by lockdowns, pandemics and politics, one of the positives to come out was the way people discovered a new appreciation of the great outdoors, taking up walking and hiking in their local area. Now that restrictions are easing, many have their sights set on more ambitious adventures for this summer.
Thanks to this, hiking boots have been flying off the shelves. The best men’s hiking boots and the best women’s hiking boots are both in high demand. Luckily, there's a great range of excellent choices, with competition fierce between leading manufacturers, as they try to offer the highest quality product. Decent boots are a serious purchase and can come with an equally serious price tag, so choosing the right pair is important.
The best hiking boots outperform other outdoor footwear types in three crucial areas: comfort, support and durability. While you might value the lightweight feel of trail running shoes or hiking shoes, they won’t last as long as quality hiking boots, or provide you with anywhere near as much ankle support, vital if you’re carrying a large pack over technical terrain.
Gone are the days when boots felt clunky and weren’t exactly easy on the eye. Today, sleek and colourful designs are equipped with lightweight uppers, Gore-Tex waterproof membranes and customized footbeds, creating boots that are comfortable – and, dare we say, stylish.
Every entry on this list of the best hiking boots is featured on its merits, created by brands with strong reputations for crafting high quality products. For us, though, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is the standout option for tackling a range of terrain. If you're heading out with a substantial load on your back, the rugged La Sportiva TX5 GTX is an excellent choice. Meanwhile, the sustainable choice award goes to the On Cloudrock Edge Raw, with its environmentally conscious design and construction.
The best hiking boots you can buy today
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Supreme technical capability combines with impressive comfort levels in this agile and versatile boot
RRP: $165 (US)/£145 (UK) | Weight (per boot, men's): 420g/14.8oz | Weight (per boot, women's): 420g/14.8oz | Compatibility: Perfect for trails up to low-alpine – for a more technical model try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX | Colours (men's): Burnt brick/Black/Bleached sand | Colours (women's): Magnet/Black/Monument | RRP: $165 (US)/£145 (UK) | Weight (per boot, men's): 420g/14.8oz | Compatibility: Perfect for trails up to low-alpine – for a more technical model try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX | Colours (men's): Burnt brick/Black/Bleached sand | RRP: $165 (US)/£145 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 420g/14.8oz | Compatibility: Perfect for trails up to low-alpine – for a more technical model try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX | Colours: Burnt brick/Black/Bleached sand | RRP: $165 (US)/£145 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 420g/14.8oz | Compatibility: Perfect for trails up to low-alpine – for a more technical model try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX | Colours: Burnt brick/Black/Bleached sand
Nimbly walking the line between high performance and extreme comfort, this boot offers stability, protection, grip and a snug fit in roughly equal measure, although the scales are tipped slightly in favour of stability. The combination of two rubber materials in the outersole adds muscle to the grip, and particular attention has been paid by the designers in reinforcing the heel’s ability to cling to challenging terrain during technical descents, so you can stay in control no matter how steep, wet and slippery the conditions are.
Salomon trail shoes famously cradle the wearer’s foot superbly, and these walking boots offer the same firm caress – the integrated upper features foam cushioning, which contributes to comfort levels, while a Gore-Tex inner supplies the waterproofing. Lastly, for what it’s worth, this is a seriously good-looking boot – which will encourage you to clean the grit and trail juice off them and keep them well maintained post adventure.
The best hiking boots for lightweight adventures
On Cloudrock Edge Raw
A cutting edge, eco-friendly, trail-ready hiking boot
RRP: $250 (US) / £195 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 470g / 16.58oz | Materials: 80% recycled polyester upper, waterproof membrane made from 50% recycled polyurethane, Missiongrip sole | Compatibility: Hiking, hill walking and trekking | Colors: Undyed white
Since the brand’s debut in 2010, On has brought a new vision, design ethos and construction approach to running and hiking footwear markets. And true to form, the new Cloudrock Edge Raw hiking boot pushes all sorts of boundaries. This visually arresting hiking boot is constructed from a high percentage of recycled materials, and it is made in a manner that minimises negative impact on the environment, so no bleaches or dyes are employed – hence the virginal look
Offered in pristine white – a unique color for hiking boots, for obvious reasons –the Cloudrock Edge Raw isn’t only interested in an environmentally conscious fashion play. The boots’ relatively high collars feature offers soft support around the ankles, and a padded liner and reinforced tongue keeps the wearer comfortably cushioned.
The Cloudrock Edge is also water and windproof. The proprietary and durable Missiongrip sole features a traction pattern that provides a secure, stable platform for hiking on uneven terrain. The boot’s soft high collar and padded liner keep you comfortable when you spend a long day on the trail. Will you keep them clean? Well that depends on the adventures you take them on, but let’s face it, if you’re using them as intended, there’s zero chance of these boots staying white for very long. Whether that’s a problem or not, depends on you – one walker’s trail-blotched boot is another’s story stained badge of honor.
Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX
Cover ground fast in this lightweight, nimble and rugged boot
RRP: $169 (US) / £160 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 459g/16.2oz | Materials: Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, synthetic leather upper, EVA midsole, proprietary SCARPA HDR outsole | Compatibility: Day hikes and quick overnights | Colors: Black/Grey, Iron Grey/Orange
The Maverick blends traditional hiking boot components with modern, athletic design to result in a boot built for agility on day walks, short backpacking escapades and fastpacking missions, as opposed to hardcore mountain ascents. A dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole cushions your feet nicely on rugged trail surfaces. The synthetic leather upper and well-designed stretch fit fabric collar deliver comfort with very little break-in required.
Scarpa’s proprietary rugged HDR outsole creates a high friction, stable platform when jumping fast from rock to rock. A Gore-Tex lining keeps your feet comfortably dry inside, while the TPU toecap protects pinkies and the heel stabilizers provide confidence. Best-suited for day hikes or carrying a lightweight backpack for a quick overnight, the Maverick is a full-featured hiking boot that will let you add up the miles without any concerns. All in all, the best hiking boots out there for hikers who like to feel fleet of foot and unencumbered by their clogs.
Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX
Fast featherweight footwear that punches well above its weight on the trails
RRP: $190 (US)/£155 (UK) | Weight: 345g/12.1oz | Compatibility: Spanning the divide between trail shoe and hiking boot, these agile rock hoppers can handle fairly tough and technical trails up to low alpine level | Colours: Black/Black and yellow/Brown and red/Navy and yellow
Combining the light feel and track-clinging capability of a high-performance trail running shoe with the ankle support and extra protection of a decent hiking boot, the Roclite 345 GTX is proving a popular choice for hikers who don’t want to dawdle. The graphene-strengthened G-GRIP outsole – appearing here for the first time on a walking boot – seizes hold of challenging terrain like an angry gorilla, but also quickly shakes off mud, grit and snow thanks to the multi-directional claw-shaped cleats. This sole technology isn’t just a solid performer, however, it’s also genuinely durable, so you can be confident of getting many miles out this boot.
The Gore-Tex upper provides good weather protection, while a cushioned midsole supplies some suspension, absorbing the shock of downward foot placement while returning plenty of bounce back into your step.
The bendy blade is, of course double edged, and some of what you gain in flexibility and dexterity you lose in sturdiness, but Inov-8’s footwear is forged in the fells of the English Lake District and can deal with almost anything the elements throw at them.
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG
A lightweight low-rider, built for barefoot hikers who want to feel their way along trails
RRP: $240 (US)/£190 (UK) | Weight: 329g/11.6oz | Compatibility: On the right feet (experienced hikers) these are capable of taking on technical trails up to low-alpine, but most walkers will enjoy these boots best on well-made paths in warmer months | Colours: Dark brown/Botanical green
These boots bring a barefoot approach to the trails, meaning that there is no drop between heel and the toe, the box is extra wide (allowing toes to spread and further heightening the tactile experience), and the stack height (distance between foot and the ground) is tiny, so you can really feel the trail you’re traversing.
Is all this a good thing? That depends on your experience and point of view: barefoot walkers/runners love the dexterity, arguing that by increasing the sensory perception of the trail surface you enjoy a closer relationship with the terrain, pay more attention to foot placement, and therefore walk/run more intelligently. By cutting out excess cushioning the weight is slashed, allowing wearers to scamper along the track fast, if that’s your thing.
Despite the minimalist design, the sole does feature 3mm lugs for traction and grip. These walking boots feel comfortable straight out the box, but you need to break your legs in – initially the back of your calves will burn, but gradually this will dissipate as muscles strengthen. On softer surfaces these boots are delightful, but less-experienced users will struggle on tougher, technical terrain, especially jagged rocks.
The best hiking boots for all-round adventure
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX
A rugged boot that will take you anywhere you want to go
RRP: $200 (US) / £175 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 565g / 20oz | Materials: 1.6mm suede leather upper with Gore-Tex lining, EVA midsole, Pomoca MTN outsole | Compatibility: 3-season alpine hiking and long backpacking routes | Colors: Black / Carrot
Technical terrain can quickly shred hiking boots that aren’t up to the task after just a few adventures, but although the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX is a trimmed down version of the Mountain Trainer Mid, it is still built for the long run. And, while you might not literally be running in these boots, they are built for speed, weighing in a full 140g lighter (per boot) than their heavier siblings. They lack the Vibram outsole of the heavier and more expensive boot, but Salewa’s Pomoca compound rubber sole, with its well-thought-through lug design, creates a pretty stable, confidence-building platform.
The Lites still feature the Italian brand’s signature 3F system on the main chassis, which cleverly connects the instep, sole and heel of the boot to increase levels of support, comfort and flexibility. A TPU-coated, abrasion resistant upper shrugs off rock edges and boulder scrapes, while a flexible ankle cuff, heel stabilizer and rubber toecap provide protection and support. Inside, a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining and a shock absorbing EVA midsole cradle your feet in dry comfort.
La Sportiva TX5 GTX
A hardcore boot for hardcore backpackers
RRP: $218 (US) / £180 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 530g/18.7oz | Materials: Nubuck leather upper, Gore-Tex extended comfort liner, Ortholite Approach footbed, Vibram MegaGrip outsole | Compatibility: Big backpacking adventures | Colors: Chocolate & Avocado / Slate & tangerine / Falcon brown & tropic blue / Carbon & Yellow /Carbon & opal / Pine & kiwi
When you throw a heavy backpack on your shoulders, you need a rugged hiking boot to carry the load. La Sportiva's TX5 is up to the challenge. A Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane supplies the breathable barrier against the in ingress of water, while an Ortholite Approach footbed supports your foot inside the boot. On the outside the Nubuck leather upper is mountain-fit, and a protective rubber rand, toecap and a combine to shield your feet from roots, rocks and trail debris. The high collar not only provides protection for ankles, its also supplies excellent support for when you’re tackling technical trails with a heavy pack on your back.
Deep in the forest and high in the hills, when the underfoot conditions are rocky, slippery and uneven, the boot’s Vibram MegaGrip sole and Impact Brake System offers shock protection and stability. LaSportiva’s 3D Flex System and an underfoot stabilizer provides freedom of movement yet further protects your lower legs from twists and turns on challenging and tricky terrain.
A burly boot with solid environmental credentials that performs well on fells, footpaths, mountain treks and backcountry escapes
RRP: $250 (US)/£160 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 700g /1lb 8.7oz | Colours: Dark earth (brown) / Bungee cord (grey) navy/asphalt | Materials: Premium leather and mesh uppers with breathable mesh waterproofing; all-terrain rubber outsoles | Compatibility: 3-season day walks, long treks, backpacking and backcountry odysseys
Although based in Portland, Oregon, Keen have looked to Europe while upgrading their ever-hardy hiking boots in recent years, establishing a base in Italy and identifying the technical requirements of trekkers on the continent’s myriad mountain trails. From their European range comes the Karraig, a mid-cuff boot that retains the brand’s signature elements, including the super-substantial toe bumper, while introducing various innovations to suit fell walkers and backpackers alike.
These include an integrated ankle support system with a contoured heel lock and an extra lace-locking eyelet to further improve the fit around the foot, increasing control and stability on rough terrain. The premium leather upper has a performance mesh, the PU midsole boasts decent cushioning qualities and the removable dual-density EVA footbed has arch support for extra comfort.
The outer sole is armed with 4mm multidirectional lugs and a full-length shank supplies reassuring rigidity on challenging terrain, especially when coupled with a heel brake for steep descents. The high shank and taller-than-usual mid-cuff makes for excellent wading capability. Keen use LWG-certified environmentally preferred leather and a PFC-free waterproofing system in their uppers, and biocide-free insoles.
The best hiking boots for summer expeditions
Merrell Moab II
Gimmick-free, rock-solid reliable choice for the majority of trail exploits
RRP: $155 (US)/£125 (UK) | Weight: 475g/ 1lb 0.7oz | Compatibility: Hill walking and formed paths | Colours: Black/Granite/Navy/Beluga
There are numerous reasons why this perennially popular trail performer has been one of the world’s most popular and best hiking boots for over a decade. But simply put, it’s excellently designed for trekking trails and is priced sensibly.
There have been a few tweaks over the years, but nothing too radical – without bells and whistles, it just performs how you want it to. The upper is constructed from durable suede and mesh, with a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex lining.
The integrated closed-cell tongue keeps stones, gravel and mud out, and the EVA midsole and comfy contoured footbed offers arch support, which, combined with an air-cushion in the heel, helps soften the shock from repeated foot placement. The Vibram outer soul has bitey 5mm lugs, providing traction and grip, and the substantial rubber cap protects toes. There’s nothing ultra-technical going on here, but if most of your hiking is done on standard trails during day hikes, or on trips when you’re not carrying too much weight, this boot is bombproof. The Moab II's friendly price tag also makes them one of the best hiking boots out there for buyers on a budget.
A beautiful nubuck-leather boot born in Bavaria, and conceived for lowland trekking, gentle hillwalking and hut-to-hut hiking
RRP: $250 (US)/£180 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 625g/1lb 6oz | Colours: Navy/asphalt | Materials: Nubuck leather / Suede / Cordura nylon upper; Gore-Tex membrane; Vibram Endurance Pro sole | Compatibility: 3-season walking on less technical lowland trails
The 2020 version of the Hanwag Banks has been 15 years in the making. During that time the Bavarian-based designers have been constantly evolving the last for this family of boots in response to hikers’ heartfelt feedback, and the men’s version is now available in versions made with a normal last, and a straight-fit extra last. The new boot also has a slightly larger forefoot, to increase comfort levels on the trail. A Vibram sole offers excellent grip, although the lugs are nowhere near as aggressive as some of the more technical boots featured here.
It is primarily designed as a hut-to-hut hiking boot, for use in the lower areas in late spring to early autumn, but there’s a reinforced PU-foam wedge in the heel to increase cushioning during foot strike, and to improve the roll-off as you take your net step. The 100% PFC-free upper is made from certified-sustainable Nubuck leather, and there’s an option to go with or without the Gore-Tex liner (the alternative option being you stick with the comfy leather lining).
The metal lace hooks are well engineered and built to last, and the inside stitch-and-turn seams complete a very attractive and classy finish. In fact, longevity is central to the design and build of this and other Hanwag boots, with double-stitching and cemented construction, making this a keeper for many years of hillside high jinks.
The best hiking boots for technical trails
Tecnica Plasma Mid 5 GTX
A year-round hard-to-beat hiking boot, customized to fit your foot
RRP: $200 (US) / £195 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 490g / 17oz | Materials: Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) upper with Gore-Tex lining, EVA midsole with TPU shank, Vibram Plasma outsole with Megagrip rubber | Compatibility: All terrain, all conditions, all year roud | Colors: Black, Somber Mare / Dark Piedra, Fresh Lava / Night Fiume, Shadow Fiume
Every hiking boot brand starts with an approach to fit, which usually starts with a last for the footwear being made. By design, some have narrow heel cups, others offer a wide toe box. Finding the right boot can take some trial and error, with multiple boots and fittings, and the occasional blister along the way. The Tecnica Plasma Mid fundamentally changes that fit dynamic. Tecnica’s patented Custom Adaptive Shape technology delivers a personalized, custom fit. Using an in-store thermo-molding process to shape the internal footbed and upper, the result is a fit tailored to the shape of your foot. The molded boot holds your heel stable, supports your arch and protects your feet from the rubbing and blisters that can ruin a day on the trails.
What you end up with is a boutique boot, with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, an EVA midsole with TPU shank (offering plenty of cushioning and arch support) and a Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole – basically a customized and fully pimped piece of technical footwear, which is rugged, durable and high performing in any alpine setting.
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX
A three-and-a-half season trekking boot with superb scrambling capability
RRP: $220 (US)/£215 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 720g/1lb 9.4oz | Colours: Carbon / yellow and black | Materials: Idro-Perwanger Leather; Gore-Tex Performance Comfort; Vibram sole | Compatibility: 3-season-plus off-track trail blazing and alpine adventures with a heavy backpack
Whether you’re a fan of La Sportiva’s waspy yellow colour palette or not, there’s no denying that these boots are a great example of head-turning trail bait. An instantly striking-looking boot, the Trango TRK GTX boasts a distinctive and durable waterproof upper constructed from top-quality 1.6mm-thick Idro-Perwanger leather. Beneath the bright and brazen outer, a breathable Gore-Tex performance comfort membrane works its magic to complete the breathable waterproofing system.
La Sportiva’s excellent 3D flex system facilitates impressive bendiness both between the ankle and the foot, and across the toe region, while attempting to maintain a level of rigidity across the sole that’s crucial to confident rock work (latitudinal flex with longitudinal lockout). We’ll be reporting on how successfully this is achieved in a more extensive review.
The Vibram Mulaz rubber sole is stickier than a good old pub floor, making this a great boot for scrambling. The rear lugs and the impact brake system help maintain control and traction on tricky terrain and steep slopes, and the sole also features a technical ‘climbing zone’ beneath the toe, ideal for rock edging and use on via ferratas. A dual density EVA midsole supplies yet more flex. There’s a light TPU overlay around the toe and around most of the rest of the boot. A fully synthetic option of this boot is available for the vegan hill hoppers out there.
The best hiking boots for wet climates
Zamberlan Vioz GTX
A rugged Roman boot, handmade in Italy and designed for long days of marching on technical trails
RRP: $310 (US)/£ £190 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 715g/1lb 9.2oz | Colours: Dark grey | Materials: Hydrobloc-treated, full-grain, 2.4mm-thick waxed leather; Gore-Tex lining. Zamberlan Vibram 3D outsole | Compatibility: 3-season-plus off-track trail blazing and alpine adventures with a heavy backpack
If the Vioz feels a little stiff straight out of the box, that’s because it’s a full grain leather boot that requires a degree of breaking in. Once you’ve tamed these handmade Italian stallions, however, you’re not going to want to stop cantering around the hills in them.
The Vioz is an outstanding performer on the trails, combining excellent durability with technical ingenuity. High-quality 2.4mm-thick leather stretches in one beautiful expanse across the upper, which has been treated with hydrobloc to repel water, and a Gore-Tex lining completes the breathable waterproof system. An interesting cut-out section just beneath the cuff allows flex in the ankle area without compromising the sturdiness of the rest of the chassis.
These waterproof hiking boots feature an extremely robust riveted lacing system with metal eyelets all the way up to the speed hooks on the cuff, which itself is well padded for comfort and relatively high for good ankle support. A gusseted tongue keeps trail debris from entering the boot. The midsole is reassuringly rigid and robust, bolstered by the Z-flex GT shank, and it contains Zamberlan ‘air’ cushioning technology for comfort. There’s no rubber rand on the toe, which keeps the boot looking handsome, but makes us fret about scuffing its face.
The Zamberlan Vibram 3D outsole is particularly impressive, with really pronounced and aggressive lugs and a central ridge along the middle section for extra security on loose terrain. The big chunky terrain-chewing teeth are super widely spaced, to avoid stones and mud collecting in the gaps, and it has an undercut heel for secure braking. Nice.
Versatile and eminently capable trekking, hiking and backpacking boot with superb out-of-the-box comfort
RRP: $280 (US)/ £200 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 660g/1lb 7.2oz | Materials used: Water-resistant 1.8mm Suede + S-Tech Fabric upper with Gore-Tex lining; Vibram Biometric Trek sole | Compatibility: 3-season, great on technical trails; available in male and female versions
Offering extraordinary comfort from first wear, the Scarpa R-Evo GTX only get better when you take them on the trails. They hug the foot snugly, with no pressure points around the ankle, heel or on top of the foot. A pronounced rear cutaway helps to reduce pressure on the Achilles, yet they still offer plenty of protection and good ankle support, without feeling restrictive.
In fact, the boot is soft and supple throughout, accommodating various foot shapes. Memory foam ankle padding in the cuff helps, but the real secret is in Scarpa’s ‘sock-fit’: a softshell-style tongue that moulds to the overall shape of the foot while offering plenty of padding under the laces.
The overall fit is medium in volume, with a fairly slim heel and a slightly rounded toebox. It’s an accommodating last that strikes the ideal balance between comfort and precision, meaning these boots are the perfect companion for high-mileage hillwalking days, but have the technical ability to take on the occasional scramble too. All in all, if you’re looking for a versatile and comfortable all-rounder, these are a top pick.
Aku Trekker Pro GTX
Intelligent design and product evolution has produced a boot that’s a rock solid trail partner for proper backpacking and alpine escapades
RRP: £199.90 (UK) | Weight: 660g/1lb 7.2oz | Compatibility: Edging further towards a mountain boot, the Trekker Pro is light enough to be comfortable on easy trails, but is capable of taking on much more technical terrain | Colours: Black and yellow/Black and orange, Grey/Black and violet
Handmade in Europe, the Trekker Pro is the more technically advanced iteration of the Trekker Lite II. The stiff sole conveys serious intent and capability, and the innovative design of the last creates what Aku call ‘Elica Natural Stride System technology’, spreading pressure evenly across the foot when walking, adding to comfort levels and performance, and decreasing the risk of sores, foot fatigue and pressure points.
The overall comfort level remains high, despite the rigidity, thanks partly to the design and technology employed in the double-layered midsole and the Vibram outsole, which features strategically positioned and lugs that are reliably grippy on a wide range of terrain (rock, scree, mud and grass). The upper, constructed from suede and Cordura, offers excellent lateral support for load-bearing feet when you’re hauling a backpack along the trail.
The combined effect is an integrated chassis and sole offering shock-absorption along with support and control, cushioning the foot during heel strike and propelling it during toe-off to guide the wearer into a fluid and efficient gait.
Waterproofing comes courtesy of a Gore-Tex lining and a rubber rand offers extra toe protection.
What to look for when buying the best hiking boots
When thinking about how to choose a pair of the best hiking boots, first consider if you need to make such a serious purchase. If you're looking to do fairly straightforward day walks in temperature conditions, you will look a little bit daft turning up in boots that could tackle Mount Rainier. Better to go for a pair of hiking shoes or a trail running shoes if this is you; they'll feel lighter and your feet won't cook in the heat.
Boots become absolute hiking essentials once you get more technical trails of the coasts, hills and mountains. This is when comfort and grip become your biggest priorities when looking at the best men's hiking boots. A well-made flexible boot with good lugs and mid-height ankle protection will suffice perfectly.
However, as trails become more technical — especially if they traverse high-alpine areas with exposed rock, snow and ice — rigidity across the sole of the boot becomes a real requirement, along with better thermal properties and the additional ankle protection offered by a higher cuff.
The best hiking boots: fit and comfort
A well-chosen pair of men's hiking boots should last several years. When it comes to the best hiking boots, comfort is just as important as performance, so you actively look forward to getting back on the trails. Poor-fitting boots can cause blisters, coldness, toe injuries, general discomfort and even accidents, all of which will discourage you from going hiking again. Of course, you should always take time to break in hiking boots after purchasing them.
All brands have their eccentricities – such as a tight toe box – and some tend towards being larger or smaller than you might expect for the size, so try before you buy if possible. Factor in the need for a good hiking sock – our guide to the best hiking socks you can buy will point you in the right direction.
The best hiking boots: weight
Every ounce counts when you’re hiking and never is this more pronounced than in the boot department – if you feel like you’re walking around with feet clad in concrete, the experience will be utterly miserable from start to finish, especially if you are tackling a long thru-hike. A lightweight option could turn what would have been a suffer-fest into an absolute joy.
Of course, there is a trade-off – greater protection usually comes at a weight cost, so more extreme trails will demand studier and heavier hiking boots. As a rule, though, cheaper, less technical boots made with inferior fabrics and technologies will be heavier than their more finessed and thought-through counterparts. Our selection of the best men's hiking boots takes this into account.
The best hiking boots: support
The tougher the terrain you’re tackling the greater level of protection and support you’ll require. Mid-height boots, or even the best trail running shoes, might be fine for low-alpine adventures in dry environments, but once you start taking on mountain trails that venture across exposed rock, scree, snow and ice, you will need more support and rigidity to help with edging, prevent the likelihood of slippage and ankle injury, and provide more protection.
When you are burdened by more weight, such as a large backpack for a multiday wilderness trip , your centre of balance and natural stability will be affected. This increases the need for more supportive, control-enhancing footwear. Even with a pair of the best trekking poles along for the ride, if you're manoeuvring around rock formations and hopping across streams, you'll need that support. Good grip is essential for technical descents, and your knees will thank you for choosing a boot that absorbs some of the impact incurred during repeated footfall.
The best hiking boots: price
Choose a good pair of hiking boots now and you’ll get many miles of action out of them – so it’s well worth investing time and some hard-earned cash on better materials. While there’s a limit to everyone’s budget, any investment made in serious kit (and boots are the most important things in your trail toolbox bar none) serves as inspiration to get out, go further and explore more.
That said, many brands offer a non-waterproof iteration of their boots for hiking in hot or dry climates, and although invariably cheaper than their higher-spec counterparts, it’s a mistake to dismiss these as the poor cousins of the range. The best men's hiking boots are tailored according to the needs of the user and, worn in the right terrain, will be more comfortable than the pricier option.
The best hiking boots: seasonality
The best hiking boots for summer differ from the best hiking boots for winter. Most hiking boots are 3-season, though most can cope with winter hikes until crampons are needed above the snowline. However, once in the realm of ice and snow, winter boots are essential for your own safety.
Due to their need to offer exceptional support, a rigid-crampon compatible sole and weatherproof qualities, winter boots tend to be more expensive and heavier. If you are looking to hit the trails this summer, a lighter, 3-season boot will suffice.
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