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The best hiking shoes 2022: for backcountry adventures

Collage of the best hiking shoes
(Image credit: Future)

The best hiking shoes are in their element when the warmer months come rolling in. Whether you're day hiking, fastpacking or hut-to-hut trekking, the benefits of a quality hiking shoe are many.

A hiking shoe is basically a stripped back, lighter and more agile hiking boot. The best hiking shoes still boast many of the features and qualities of a boot, such as waterproof membranes, grippy rubber outsoles, reinforcement at the toe and protection in the form of a rubber rand. However, they are less cumbersome than their booty cousins.

However, we'd still recommend getting hold of a pair of the best hiking boots for activities like hiking with a heavy backpack or hiking in winter. Basically, the ankle protection offered by a quality boot is much greater that of a hiking shoe.

The best hiking shoes sit on a spectrum. Some are aimed at fast and light missions and are more akin to well-armoured trail running shoes, while others are more sturdily built, designed for maximum protection. The best hiking shoes for you will depend on your planned adventures and the way you want to approach them.

The best hiking shoes for all terrains

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX

(Image credit: Scarpa)
A super sophisticated hiking shoe that will take you from valley low to mountain high

Specifications

RRP: $189 (US) / £165 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Suede + Mesh upper with a Gore-Tex lining; TPU midsole; Presa outsole
Weight (per shoe): men’s: 455g/16oz; Women’s: 430g/15oz
Colors: Men’s: Titanium & lime / Taupe & mango / Thyme green & mustard; Women’s: Birch & sunny lime
Compatibility: Ideal for hill and fell walking, and approach routes up to low alpine

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent secure fit
+
Great protection
+
Good grip
+
Long lasting

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Suede requires maintenance

Essentially the low-cut version of Scarpa’s Rush Trail GTX hiking boot, this premium walking shoe has a handsome and functional design, and is more than capable of taking on a diverse range of trails into the low alpine region, and beyond in good conditions. The suede upper is sumptuously soft and immediately comfortable straight out of the box. 

The Rush boasts both extra ankle padding and an ‘Autofit’ collar, which improves the connection between foot and shoe, reduces stress and improves comfort levels. The tongue is fully integrated (keeping out trail debris) and the lace system is super sturdy, further enabling a firm and secure fit, and providing excellent confidence on even the most technical trails. Suede offers a degree of water resistance, but these shoes also have a Gore-Tex membrane to complete the weather protection. There’s extra protection around the toe box and heel and a really robust DST plastic insert on each side of the midsole, where the heel runs into the midfoot, acts as another shield. 

There is a reasonable amount of rigidity across the length of the shoe, enough to make it a good performer on more technical trails where rock edging is required, but not so much that it feels too stiff on less demanding terrain. There’s a good amount of cushioning in the midsole, which cuts out any real trail feedback, but will serve you well over longer distances. The Presa outsole offers excellent grip, and these are among the best all-terrain walking shoes you will find.

Read our full Scarpa Rush Trail GTX review here

Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex

(Image credit: Adidas)
Sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes with a sleek, sporty look but decent capability

Specifications

RRP: $140 (US) / £120 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Mesh and synthetic upper (50% recycled), with a Gore-Tex lining; EVA midsole; Traxion rubber outsole
Weight (per shoe, men’s size 11): 430g/15oz
Colors: Black, carbon & grey / Grey & solar red / Beige, grey & acid yellow / Blue, black & turbo
Compatibility: All terrain trekking, from woodlands to mountain trails and approach routes.

Reasons to buy

+
Robust and 
+
Protective
+
Good grip
+
Recycled content used

Reasons to avoid

-
Short lace area
-
Run warm mid summer
-
Too chunky for some people

Despite its sporty appearance, this is a hiking shoe that’s equipped for exploring all kinds of terrain. The synthetic mesh upper is backed up with a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex lining, and reinforced with a comprehensive protective rand that goes right around the foot, rising in areas most at risk. The lacing system is quite basic, and perhaps a tad short for tackling really boggy conditions, but the tongue is well integrated, so grit, water and stones are kept out pretty effectively. 

The Continental outsole has 4mm lugs with directional chevrons that supply good grips and are nicely spaced out to avoid picking up too much mud. There are two points of flex on the sole, one just behind the forefoot and another in front of the heel, which means this hiking shoe bends with the foot during a normal walking movement – this is good for hiking on the vast majority of trails, but won’t suit more technical rocky routes where edging is required. 

They run quite hot in warm mid-summer conditions and there is very little in the way of trail feel, but the cushioning in the dual-density EVA midsole is comprehensive, and if you’re looking for a year-round hiking shoe that can handle most challenges and still look inconspicuous in a pub, these are a good option.

Read our full Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex review

The best hiking shoes for technical trails

best hiking shoes: Merrell Moab 3 Gore-Tex

(Image credit: Merrell)
Robust suede hiking shoes for proper walking

Specifications

RRP: $155 (US) / £120 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Pig suede leather and breathable mesh upper; Gore-tex membrane; nylon arch shank; Vibram TC5+ outsole
Weight (per shoe): Men’s (size 11): 488g / 1lb 1oz; Women’s: 370g / 13oz
Colors: Men’s: Beluga / Black & grey / Granite & poseidon / Navy / Olive / Pecan; Women’s: Sedona sage / Aluminum / Altitude / Black / Laurel / Olive
Compatibility: Day hiking, hut-hut trekking, fastpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Instantly comfortable
+
Great outsole
+
Excellent foot protection
+
Robust
+
Some recycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Run warm in hot weather
-
Relatively heavy
-
Pig leather suede not suitable for some people
-
Quite chunky

Now into their third generation, Merrell’s Moab 3 GTX walking shoes are good, solid hooves for hikers who want to take on proper trails without wearing clunky, chunky boots. These shoes are pretty much a low-cut version of Merrell’s perennially popular boots of the same name. The ankle protection a mid-length boot provides is great when you’re carrying a heavy pack on technical terrain, but most of the time, when you’re travelling fairly light, hiking shoes are perfectly fine, especially when they’re as robust and well-designed as these shoes. The upper is made with pig suede, combined with a lighter weight mesh (recycled), which is all backed by a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. 

The Moabs can run a little hot in really warm weather, but in most conditions they are extremely comfortable, straight out the box. There is plenty of suspension and some rebound in the midsole, especially in the heel, which boasts an air cushion. The Vibram outsole is well designed, with sizable 5mm lugs supplying good grip, while the overall pattern doesn’t collect too much mud. The foot protection is excellent, with the outsole providing an all-round bumper, bolstered by a large toecap, and the bellows tongue keeps trail debris out. Like the mesh, the webbing and laces are made with recycled materials, but the most environmentally friendly thing about these shoes is that they’ll likely last you for many years.

Read our full Merrell Moab 3 Gore-Tex hiking shoes review

The best hiking shoes for moving fast

best hiking shoes: Salomon Outpulse Gore-tex

(Image credit: Salomon)
Lightweight hiking shoes for blazing trails at pace

Specifications

RRP: $140 (US) / £135 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Synthetic MCL upper; Gore-Tex membrane; Fuze Surge foam compound in the midsole; Contagrip rubber outsole
Weight (per shoe): Men’s (size 11): 377g / 13oz; Women’s: 300g / 10.5oz
Colors: Men’s: Bleached sand, black & poppy red / Estate blue, vanilla ice & poppy red / Magnet, black & wrought iron; Women’s: Black, stormy weather & vanilla ice / Apricot buff, black & tulipwood / Mood Iindigo, leek green & Easter egg / Tulipwood, black & poppy red
Compatibility: Quick day hikes, fast packing

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Speedy design
+
Recycled materials used
+
Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower level of protection 
-
Less robust
-
Outsole can collect mud

Not for the first time, the Salomon family has produced a marvelous mudblood with the Outpulse, which is part hiking hoof and part trail-running shoe – but we mean that in a positive sense. If you’re looking for lightweight footwear, built for moving at a fast trot across walking trails during day hikes, then this shoe could be for you. Obviously there are compromises that need to be made with such a design. 

Don’t expect the level of protection that a more traditional hiking shoe will offer your feet – the Outpulse doesn’t feature a big chunky toe-cap or outsole, and neither will it likely last as long as some of the heavier and more robust walking shoes on the market. But, what they do have is a fully breathable and waterproof upper (thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane), a highly cushioned and dynamic midsole loaded with Fuze Surge foam, and a reasonably grippy Contagrip rubber outsole with artfully arranged lugs providing propulsion traction at the front and braking control at the rear. There’s a modest 10mm heel-to-toe drop on these shoes, which keeps your centre of gravity nice and low, and helps with balance. 

Your feet are securely and comfortably cradled by the SensiFit design, while the geometry of the chassis and midsole creates a reverse camber effect, which helps your walking cadence flow nice and efficiently, further enhanced by the ‘Energy Blade’, a lightweight TPU plate incorporated into the well cushioned midsole. The integrated tongue keeps debris out of the shoe, and the flat laces don’t tend to come undone. These shoes don’t offer enough support for backpacking, but if you’re travelling light, tackling terrain that isn’t super technical and want to cover ground quickly, the Outpulse are perfect. 

Read our full Salomon Outpulse Gore-Tex review

The best hiking shoes for sustainability

Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310 hiking shoe in blue

(Image credit: inov-8)
Super comfortable trail hiking shoes, made with mostly recycled materials

Specifications

RRP: $150 (US) / £130 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Knitted 100% recycled rPET yarn upper; Bloom foam midsole (10% algae biomass); natural gum rubber undyed outsole
Weight (per shoe): 310g / 10.9oz
Colors: Green & gum / Navy & grey
Compatibility: Hiking and fastpacking in warmer conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Largely recycled 
+
Super comfortable
+
Lightweight and breathable
+
Good grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Low level of foot protection
-
Expensive

British brand inov-8 has been leading the way recently with the durability of its shoes – and specifically the toughness of their graphene-based outsoles – but this hiking shoe indicates they’re making positive steps in the direction of sustainability too. Made from 90% recycled materials – mainly previously discarded plastic bottles – the Roclite Recycled 310s have a pleasingly light environmental footprint. Even the laces are recycled, and the midsole features foam that’s 10% algae biomass (which contributes positively to the environment when harvested. Pitched towards walkers who want to stay nimble and quick, they’re extremely lightweight and easy to wear, and the relatively small heel-to-toe drop (8mm) keeps your centre of gravity nice and low. 

However, they are not especially supportive or well-armed for providing foot protection – there’s no waterproof membrane (although this does mean they breath nicely and dry quickly), and while there is a rand of sorts around the mostly mesh upper, it’s not going to put up much of a fight against sharp stones and sticks. There’s no Graphene in the studs of these shoes, but the 6mm lugs on the natural gum outsole are very grippy, and the design doesn’t collect too much mud when you’re on mucky trails. The Metaflex feature means they move dynamically with your feet, providing decent levels of trail feedback and making them slipper-level comfortable. The look and colors used is all quite understated, but this fits well with the excellent eco-conscious approach of these shoes.

Read our full inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310s review

Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP hiking shoe in black and gray

(Image credit: Hi-Tec)

Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP Walking Shoes

Down to earth hiking shoes made from recycled bottles

Specifications

RRP: £80 (UK) / €93 (EU)
Weight (per boot): 160g / 5.6oz
Materials: Upper made mostly from recycled polyester (71.9%); Dri-Tec membrane; compression moulded EVA midsole; V-Lite rubber outsole
Compatibility: 3-season hiking on most sub alpine routes
Colors: Black & grey / Blue & black

Reasons to buy

+
Uppers made with majority-recycled material
+
Vegan-friendly
+
Good price
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly bulky 
-
Tread collects dirt

The new V-Lite Psych WP range of hiking boots and walking shoes recently launched by Hi-Tec feature chassis made mostly from recycled plastic. We have been trail testing the V-Lite Psych WP Lows, which have a collar that site beneath the ankle and have textile uppers manufactured from 100% responsibly sourced, 100% recycled polyester manufactured from 2.35 pieces of a full 380ml recycled plastic bottle. As such they are both vegan friendly and kind to the environment. The upper is lined with the brand’s Dri-Tec waterproof and breathable membrane technology, which keeps trail juice out. 

Other features include a protective toecap, and pull tab to help you them on, and a rear heel cap for a secure fit. A compression-molded EVA midsole supplies some bounce, the ESS lightweight shank provides torsional stability, and the lightweight V-Lite Rubber outsoles with 5mm-plus lugs dish up grip and traction. They are unlikely to win any style and grace awards, but these are functional and durable walking shoes capable of tramping many miles in all sorts of conditions, and the sustainable ethos behind the construction deserves applause. The price is pretty decent too, making them some of the best hiking shoes for value.

The best hiking shoes for comfort

Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX hiking shoe in brown and yellow

(Image credit: Danner)
These breathable, waterproof hiking shoes boast a comfortable, sock-like fit and keep you surprisingly sure-footed on slick, rocky hikes

Specifications

RRP: $200 (US) / £180 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Leather and textile upper, Gore-Tex membrane, Vibram Megagrip sole, open-cell Polyurethane footbed
Weight (per shoe): 340g/12oz
Colors: Brown & meadow green / Blue & orange / Black & red
Compatibility: Hiking

Reasons to buy

+
Waterproof and breathable
+
Vibram Megagrip soles
+
Removable OrthoLite Footbed
+
Comfortable, sock-like fit
+
Leather and abrasion resistant fabric uppers offer decent protection
+
Wide sizes available

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to pull on with high arches
-
Non insulated, might not be enough for frigid temps
-
Pricey

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX looks and in some ways acts like one of the best trail running shoes, but is surprisingly robust for hiking in wet weather and over uneven, rocky terrain. This sock-like style of shoe is designed with a heel tab to pull them on while the laces serve just for a little tightening. They can take a little effort to pull on if you have high arches, but once they’re on they feel fantastic with a snug, comfortable fit, lots of flex and three layers of removable, breathable cushioning.

With uppers made from durable leather, abrasion resistant and a Gore-Tex membrane plus chunky Vibram Megarip soles, these shoes are sturdy and suitable for long hikes and give loads of stability on rough trails. 

These hiking shoes are high priced, but they are built to last.

Read our full Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX hiking shoe review

Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof hiking shoe in brown

(Image credit: Keen)

Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof

Keen's brand new waterproof hikers boast a innovative heel-lock system and dashing good looks

Specifications

RRP: $190 (US) / £135 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Performance mesh upper with TPU overlays; KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane; EVA midsole; KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole; Removable PU insole
Weight (per shoe): 381g/13.4oz
Colors: Dark Olive/Black Olive
Compatibility: Hiking trails

Reasons to buy

+
Innovative heel-lock system
+
Great toe protection
+
Supportive and comfortable
+
Waterproof
+
Good looks
+
Outsole not overly aggressive

Reasons to avoid

-
Laces prone to coming undone
-
Hard to clean

Brand new from Keen, the NXIS Evo feature a fantastic and clever heel-lock system, which integrates with the laces to provide a really secure grip right around the entire heel and forefoot area, providing complete confidence on even the most technical trails, because your feet do not more around at all within the shoe. Except, that is, when the laces come undone, which has happened on test a few times – user error? Maybe, but the thick, round laces used, while tough, to tend to work their way undone. 

Elsewhere, these good-looking hiking shoes have a really robust toe bumper, as all Keen footwear does, although they have pared things back a little bit with the NXIS, giving them a split-toe look to cut down on a bit of weight (don’t worry, your pinkies are still well protected). The mesh upper is light and has an effective waterproof membrane, but it is a tad tricky to clean if/when it gets splattered mud, filth and trail gunk. The insoles and midsoles combine to deliver a comfortable ride, and the outsole isn’t so aggressive that it kills all trail feel (some people might prefer more aggressive lugs, but we think these 4mm multidirectional teeth re just right for a walking shoe).

Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex Walking Shoe in tan

(Image credit: Hoka)

Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex Walking Shoe

Full suspension hiking shoe for comfortable trail walking across all sorts of terrain

Specifications

RRP: $155 (US) / £135 (UK)
Materials: Nubuck leather and Gore-Tex upper, molded PU sockliner (50% soybean oil), compression-molded EVA midsole, Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with 5mm lugs
Drop: 6mm
Weight (per shoe): 397g
Colors: Men’s: Black / Tiger’s eye and black; Women’s: Black / Cherry Mahogany & hot sauce / Tiger’s eye and black
Compatibility: Three-season hiking on a wide variety of landscapes and terrain types

Reasons to buy

+
Rocker to improve stride efficiency 
+
Lots of cushioning in the midsole
+
Comfortable ride
+
Top quality componentry used (Gore-Tex / Vibram)
+
Recycled polyester used in the collar, mesh and laces

Reasons to avoid

-
No trail feel
-
Chunky look not for everyone
-
Run a little warm in mid summer

Hoka footwear is recognizable from 100 metres away on a mist-shrouded trail, and the brand’s distinctive super-sized midsole shoes are somewhat divisive – you either love them or laugh at people wearing them. 

They offer levels of cushioning in the midsole that elicit all sorts of superlatives, and for good reason – no matter what you think of the look, they are very comfortable and the extra suspension they provide means your knees will thank you for wearing them at the end of a long trail day. The downside of all this padding is that there’s zero trail feel.

Despite the large size of the maxi midsoles, the heel-to-toe drop is a modest – minimalist even – 6mm, but also feature a rocker, meaning the bottom of the shoe is shaped slightly like the hull of boat or a very elongated ‘U’, so all the heel strikers out there can still efficiently push off on each new stride from the front of the foot. This is great, but can take some getting used to.  

The uppers are very robust, being made with nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex membrane, to supply effective waterproofing. This means they can run a little hot mid summer, but they’re excellent throughout most of the year. There is an extra lace hole (for use in deep mud, to avoid losing a shoe) and the integrated heel cup and pull loop is both practical and comfortable.  

The best hiking shoes for fastpacking

Salewa Dropline GTX hiking shoe in yellow and black

(Image credit: Salewa)
A low cut trail shoe for fastpacking and thru hikes

Specifications

RRP: $160 (US) / £160 (UK)
Materials: Exa Shell Over Injected 3D Cage upper with Stretchable Air Mesh and Tpu film; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; Ortholite footbed; EVA midsole; Pomoca Dropline outsole
Weight (per shoe): 294 g / 10.4 oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Blue & dark denim / Green, black & blue Danube; Women’s: Ocena / Canal Blue / Ombre Blue & Virtual Pink
Compatibility: Backpacking, thru hiking, fast packing, general walking

Reasons to buy

+
Rockered
+
Stable
+
Light
+
Lace cover keeps debris out

Reasons to avoid

-
Laces come untied easily

Thru hikers are notorious for choosing hiking shoes instead of boots because they’re lighter, cooler, and quicker to dry. Many of the best hiking shoes are made too stiff to provide stability. Or they’re sneaker soft, and their midsole’s break down before you have racked up the miles. The Dropline, however, has plenty of stability, but it feels more like a sneaker on steroids than a hiking boot. Just cut shorter.

The confidence this shoe offers is great – an anti-rock heel cup and lacing that ties into the heel and the sole of the shoe is all part of Salewa’s secret recipe, with the brand claiming that the heel-to-toe transition saves energy. The Gore-Tex lining provides breathable waterproofing, but the Dropline is also available in a non-waterproof version. The rounded, low-profile Pomoca outsole has a lot of lugs, but they’re not deep, and can get clogged in muddy conditions. The mesh covering over the tongue and under the laces kept dirt and debris out, however, and an extra beefy toe rand shows that Salewa expects this hiking shoe to be used hard. 

Rear our full Salewa Dropline GTX review

The best hiking shoes for value

Columbia Men’s Trailstorm hiking shoe in black

(Image credit: Columbia)
A well-featured waterproof hiking shoe available for a good price

Specifications

List price: $100 (US) / £90 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Mesh upper; Techlite+ foam midsole; Adapt Trax Outsole
Weight (per shoe): Men’s: 319g / 11.25oz; Women’s: 269g / 9.5oz
Colors: Men’s: Dark mountain & steam / Deep marine & bold orange / Black & solar / Dark grey and Bright gold; Women’s Cirrus grey & sandalwood pink / Black & bright marigold / Graphite & dolphin
Compatibility: Hiking and trekking in all kids of conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Waterproof
+
Well cushioned

Reasons to avoid

-
Low trail feel
-
No recycled material

Impressively specced for their price point, the Trailstorms are fully waterproof and offer wild walkers good levels of protection for their feet, with a supportive heel cup and reinforced toe cap. The 4mm lugs on the outsole look a little bit tame at first, but they are artfully angled and positioned to provide traction and braking control on all sorts of terrain without causing any discomfort when you’re walking on concrete or hard-packed surfaces, and they pick up virtually no mud, even in gloopy conditions. 

The ghillie lacing system, which runs through securely stitched cord eyelets and employs a pair of wings across the top of the foot, provides a really secure hold an prevents any unwanted movement within the chassis of the shoe. There’s plenty of cushioning in the chunky Techlite+ foam midsole, but trail feedback is next to non-existent. They also run a little warm on hotter days, thanks to the waterproof membrane, but do allow feet to breath reasonably well.

Read our full Columbia Men's Trailstorm review

Quechua Waterproof MH100 Walking Shoe in blue and pink

(Image credit: Quechua)

Quechua Waterproof MH100 Walking Shoe

A budget-friendly walking shoe with a retro look and high levels of cushioning for street or trail walking

Specifications

List price: $55 (US) / £35 (UK)
Materials: Poly and leather upper, waterproof and breathable membrane lining, EVA midsole, non-slip rubber outsole
Weight per shoe (men's): 405g/14oz
Weight per shoe (women's): 337g/12oz
Colors (men's): Carbon grey and cherry red / Dark petrol blue and lime green
Colors (women's): Caribbean blue / Green-grey / purple-storm / dark petrol blue
Compatibility: Half-day sojourns into the foothills

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Comfortable upper 
+
In-sole cushioning
+
Specific performance ratings

Reasons to avoid

-
Too cushioned
-
Run hot

The look of this shoe is rather retro, which you will either love… or not. Decathlon report that the MH100 waterproof shoe was “designed at the foot of Mont Blanc for occasional mountain hikes of three to four hours’ duration and up to 700 meters.” They are very specific about this, and it is useful information – setting the boundaries of what this shoe’s comfort zone is, which we largely agree with.

The sole of the MH100s is semi-flexible, and the grippy outer has been created with non-slip rubber, with 5mm studs to bite into slippery terrain. The uppers feature stone-guard protection, and beneath the leather-synthetic mix of materials, an own-brand waterproof and breathable membrane lining keeps out water. The shoe has full-length foot cushioning, thanks to an EVA midsole, and well-cushioned heel and tongue areas. If anything, the in-sole cushioning could be a little too much for some people. (If there is too much give in a sole it can zap your energy and making the process of walking less responsive.)

Hiking shoes comparison table
Hiking shoeRRPWeightBest use
Scarpa Rush Trail GTX$189 (US) / £165 (UK)men’s: 455g/16oz; Women’s: 430g/15oz Ideal for hill and fell walking, and approach routes up to low alpine
adiads TERREX AX4 GORE-TEX$140 (US) / £120 (UK)430g/15ozAll terrain trekking, from woodlands to mountain trails and approach routes.
Merrell Moab 3 Gore-Tex$155 (US) / £120 (UK)Men’s (size 11): 488g / 1lb 1oz; Women’s: 370g / 13ozDay hiking, hut-hut trekking, fastpacking
Salomon Outpulse Gore-tex$140 (US) / £135 (UK)Men’s (size 11): 377g / 13oz; Women’s: 300g / 10.5ozQuick day hikes, fastpacking
Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310s$150 (US) / £130 (UK)310g / 10.9ozHiking and fastpacking in warmer conditions
Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP walking shoes£80 (UK) / €93 (EU)160g / 5.6oz3-season hiking on most sub alpine routes
Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX$200 (US) / £180 (UK)340g / 12ozHiking and fast packing in dry or wet conditions
Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof$190 (US) / £135 (UK)381g / 13.4ozHiking and fast packing in dry or wet conditions
Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex walking shoe$155 (US) / £135 (UK)397g / 14 ozThree-season hiking on a wide variety of landscapes and terrain types
Salewa Dropline GTX$160 (US) / £160 (UK)294 g / 10.4 ozBackpacking, thru hiking, fast packing, general walking
Columbia Men’s Trailstorm$100 (US) / £90 (UK)319g / 11.25oz (men's) / 269g / 9.5oz (women's)Hiking and trekking in all kids of conditions
Quechua waterproof MH100 walking shoe$55 (US) / £35 (UK)405g / 14oz (men's) / 337g / 12oz (women's)Half-day sojourns into the foothills

Choosing the best hiking shoes for you

What are the best hiking shoes for you? To answer that you have to think about the kind of walking you do most often. Requirements vary, depending on the terrain being traversed, the quality of the trail, prevailing conditions and the amount of kit you typically carry. There are even fully vegan footwear options out there, ready for the trail.

Following are some important considerations you should factor in to your decision-making process.

Three people hiking in boots with trekking poles

For lightweight summer rambles, a hiking shoe is ideal (Image credit: Salewa)

Seasons

Walking shoes are best suited to fairer conditions in general, but the lighter weight models made of fabric are particularly vulnerable to bad weather, and if you do a lot of walking in challenging conditions, you should opt for a more robust shoe made with hardy materials. Even some of the best full on hiking boots are not suitable for winter conditions, so if you're a winter walker you will need a pair of the best winter hiking boots, specifically designed with snow, ice and crampon compatibility in mind. 

Waterproofing is such a selling point that many manufacturers will even include it in the name of their hiking shoes, so look out for that.

Terrain

The terrain will dictate the type of shoe – and sole – that you choose. Even the best hiking shoe in the world won’t provide the same ankle support as a boot, but some are sturdier than others, and offer more protection. If you regularly hike on rough terrain, choose a shoe with a stiff sole, grippy outsole and aggressive lugs for good grip, and look for a substantial rand and a good toe cap. A pair of trekking poles can help share the burden on steep terrain.

Some of the products we featured are named as approach shoes, which are a hybrid of climbing and hiking shoes designed for rocky scrambles and technical approaches to climber's crags. Increasingly, approach shoes are being designed to tackle longer distances and offer durability to rival the most fortified hiking shoe. If long days out on technical scrambling terrain sounds like your bag, then approach shoes might be the optimum choice.

In summer, when watery adventures like canyoning and coasteering are on the cards, the best option is a pair of the best water shoes. While some water shoes are designed purely with aquatic antics in mind, some hybrid pairs are wonderfully amphibious, performing just as well on the trails as in the water.

best hiking shoes - Salewa Dropline GTX

Hiking shoes complemented by trekking poles make rocky terrain more manageable (Image credit: Salewa)

Cushioning

A stiff sole will offer great energy output, while a cushioned sole and in-sole will generally absorb energy. It depends on what you are looking for personally, though, because high cushioning protects joints and gives a more comfortable on-the-ground feel, while a stiffer and less cushioned sole offers greater stability and traction, as well as less energy absorption. Try out contrasting pairs to get a feel for this and don't forget to wear your best hiking socks when you do.

Some runners and hikers prefer to be able to feel the trail beneath their feet – this is  known as 'trail feel' or 'ground feel'. With this in mind, the best barefoot running shoes and hiking shoes are becoming increasingly popular. Of course, this means less cushioning but does allow you to connect to the landscape more intimately.

Width

We all have different shaped feet and the difference between male and female feet can be significant. The shoes in our reviews are rated for width and keep an eye out for designs specifically tailored for women.

Weight

Hiking shoes are usually lighter in weight than walking boots but heavier than a running shoe. The weight of footwear can cause fatigue over longer distances but some shoes are heavier because they have features such as stiffer soles and more robust uppers.

Heel to toe drop

Running footwear usually includes a heel-to-toe drop dimension. A neutral drop shoe, for example, will be zero and then the size increases up to 10mm and more. Few boot brands give these details out, so it is important to try them on before buying to see if the shoe suits your walking style and gait.

best hiking shoe - Salewa Dropline GTX

For fast and light adventures, hiking shoes are ideal (Image credit: Salewa)

Materials

Walking shoes can be made of leather, nubuck leather, suede and synthetic fabrics, or a mix of these. Leather is likely to be harder wearing but your feet are more likely to become hot and sweaty. Fabric is more breathable, but less durable. A rubber rand around the shoe, where the upper joins the sole, can be useful for reducing abrasion from rocks, stones and vegetation. Look for shoes with extra rubber at the toe and heel, too.

Waterproofing

Many shoes are designed with a waterproof and breathable membrane lining. The aim is to make fabric waterproof and water resistant. Gore-Tex is the best known waterproof membrane brand and it is used by many of the best hiking shoe and boot brands. Other companies use their own-brand membrane, which work to a greater or lesser degree. It is useful to have a rubber rand fully around the shoe to stop water ingress from puddles and mud, but remember, once the water level exceeds ankle height, you’re going to get wet feet if you’re wearing shoes, no matter how waterproof they are.

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).