Hiking may sound like one of the simplest activities you could do of a weekend, but there's more to clambering across the countryside than putting one foot in front of the other. If you want to get the best out of your outdoor excursions you need to make sure you've got the best hiking boots for the job.
Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all hiking boot so picking an absolute best is an impossible task. The key is to get the right boots for the type of hiking you're doing. That not only means for the terrain you're walking on but the distance, likely weather, and your personal preference when it comes to comfort.
Jump to the shoes you want:
- The best hiking boots for technical hikes
- The best hiking boots for multi-day hikes
- The best hiking boots for mid-level hiking
- The best hiking boots for day walking
Picking up a pair of hiking boots is a big undertaking. Get the wrong ones and you're going to know about it halfway up a mountain. It's an investment that needs a lot of thought as well as a fair bit of testing over shorter walks before going all out.
Fabric vs leather
At one end of the hiking boot spectrum you have light fabric pairs designed for comfort, and at the other, you have thick leather options that will offer more support and protection against the cold. Fabric pairs are better suited to warm and dry conditions, whilst the leather products out there are often built to help you up some of the toughest of snow-covered mountains.
Here we run through our choices for the best options out there at the moment, from light and breathable to full-on winter trek boots.
On average, a good pair of hiking boots built to last will set you back in the region of $120 to $300. Cheaper options are available, but, depending on the level of hiking you’re planning to do, it’s an investment that sits right at the top of the hikers checklist.
If you're heading into the mountains and expecting to take on tough terrain and even some scrambling, you need a pair of boots that are both durable and offer a high level of grip. These boots are focused on the technical side of hiking, offering protection and strength when you need it.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid Gore-Tex
Salewa is first and foremost a company that designs kit for mountaineering and climbing, so it'll come as no surprise that these shoes are designed for the toughest ascents and descents.
Although this guide is focused on hiking and trekking shoes, we've included this offering from Salewa due to the fact that it bridges a wide gap between trekking and alpinism – providing an excellent option if you're at the more serious end of the trekking world and often find yourself scrambling.
As well as being built with the high level of durability that you'd expect from an approach shoe, the MTN Trainer Mid GTX is designed to also offer flexibility and comfort, not only for shorter ascents and descents but for full-day hikes.
Features include a protective rubber rand that sits high above the foot for protection from rocks, a special lacing system that extends all the way to the toes to allow a nice secure fit, a collar design that adapts to varied movement for a natural and relaxed fit, and a compact Vibram sole for a high level of support and traction.
If you're looking for a nice comfortable walking boot then scroll down this list. However, if you want a pair of all-terrain beasts that will tackle the most advanced alpine treks and scrambles but still offer comfort during a hike, they're great value for money.
Weight: 3.1lbs /1.4kg
Scarpa R-Evo GTX
Aside from the fact that the R-Evo GTX is a really nice-looking modern shoe, the major plus point here comes from a design that focuses heavily on the technical aspects of hikes. Essentially that comes down to the fact that everything from the high level of ankle support to a very impressive amount of technical traction delivers a boot that's not far off mountaineering levels.
As well as great durability and effective Gore-Tex waterproofing goes, the boot will keep your foot firmly held in place over technical terrain. However, there is a trade-off and if you're looking for something that's comfortable and breathable over less demanding terrain, the R-Evo GTX is probably going to be overkill. One negative feature to note is that it also has very thin laces that can be tricky to use.
Weight: 2.9lbs / 1.3kg
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
If you’re looking for a pair of boots that’ll keep safe and dry in the toughest conditions, the Quest 4D 3s are our top choice by a long way. Perfect for long hikes carrying heavy loads and, thanks to a fancy new lug design, technical scrambles on wet surfaces.
Salomon has managed to create a boot that combines a really tight level of support with a chassis that allows for a surprising amount of flexibility in the forefoot. The result is a product that moves like a mountaineering boot but actually feels like a more general walking boot over a longer distance.
Other nice features include impressively effective Gore-Tex waterproof sealing, artificially treated antibacterial footbeds and a very smooth lacing system that probably helps to explain the supportive feel of the boot.
Weight: 2.8lbs / 1.28kg
Lowa Explorer GTX Mid
The Explorer is a terrific multifunctional boot that’s suitable for pretty much any kind of walking, trekking or climbing you want to do, but it truly excels on less technical trails, and those who do spend most of their scrambling up peaks might be more at home in a dedicated climbing boot.
A Gore-Tex lining ensures your feet will stay dry at all times, and the breathable suede upper of the boot provides support for the foot that’s both secure and comfortable. There's also a Vibram Rock Trac Evo outsole, which is impressively durable and adept at finding grip on any kind of terrain, as well as a lightweight DynaPU midsole for cushioning on the trails.
At just over a kilo, the Explorer is also light enough to use for day walks, or even strolls around town in inclement weather, especially as the simple style of the boot fits in as well on the high street as it does the trails. There’s also no breaking in period required with the boot, which is comfortable to wear straight out to the box.
Weight: 2.56lbs / 1.16kg
For multi-day hikes, whether that's in the mountains or on the flat, you need a pair of boots that are comfortable, protective and offer a high level of durability.
Danner Free Spirit
Danner has long been a brand that manages to balance beautifully designed shoes with an impressive level of technical features. The Free Spirit is the perfect example of that, taking a retro style from the brand's 1980s range and updating it for the 21st century.
It's a boot that's made for lighter trails and day hikes but can tackle tougher terrain when it needs to. That's largely due to the addition of Vibram Overlook Outsole which does an excellent job at gripping wet and slippery surfaces, along with a durable Gore-Tex upper to keep the wet out.
At its core, the Free Sprit is a versatile shoe that's best suited to shorter weekend walks. It's a great option when you want something that looks great but won't limit you if you decide to take things up a notch, having the ruggedness and durability for far more than the outward style would suggest.
Weight: 2.3lbs / 1kg
Note: Look at getting a half size down as the Danner range tends to run slightly larger.
Mammut Trovat Guide II High GTX
The Trovat Guide II are the closest you’re going to get to full-on mountaineering boots whilst still retaining a level of comfort that you need for long-distance hiking. That said, they fit firmly at the technical end of the spectrum, so what you gain from grip, waterproofing and hard-wearing materials, you lose in comfort.
If you’re looking for multi-day hikes over nice comfortable trails, then there are far better options in the list. If, however, you want a pair of boots to cover you for a tricky series of technical day hikes, they’re a great investment for your boot cupboard.
As looks go, the design fits firmly in the classic style of older hiking boots, although there have been some subtle updates to modernise them. However, from a functional aspect, there’s a lot the Trovat Guide II have to be proud of: double heel straps and special cushioned foam to help prevent blistering, a three-zone lacing system for a secure feel and a level of waterproofing that is one of the best we’ve seen.
They’re also strap-on crampon compatible, which is a major bonus for any serious hikers out there who often hit colder routes.
Weight: 3.5lbs / 1.6kg
If you're the kind of hiker that likes to spend a few hours out in the wilderness instead of a few days, you need a comfortable and lightweight boot that still has a good level of durability and protection.
Columbia Escape Thrive Endure
If you're looking for a conventional style boot, probably best to look away now. The Columbia Escape Thrive Endure is not your average hiking option, appearing more like a futuristic space shoe than something designed for the countryside.
But the modern look is more than just a fancy attempt at standing out, with a heap of technical features that make the Escape Thrive Endure a great option for those that want a balance of speed and protection. Speed really is the focus here, and we'd liken it more to a trail shoe in many ways than a traditional hiking boot.
The most noticeable element of the boot is the TechLite Plush midsole, a light, bouncy material that's designed to offer a smooth heel-to-toe movement for efficiency and comfort. Over short distances it handles faster hikes very well, feeling light on the foot and propulsive. For longer hikes, the rocker-style shape helps to keep you moving with a subtle forward motion that you won't find in many of the more heavy-duty options on this list.
The upper mesh offers a secure fit that feels lightweight on the foot for speed hiking. Despite that lean style, there's an Outdry waterproof covering that does a good job at keeping out the elements while still maintaining a competent level of breathability. If you're planning on multi-day hikes across the Amazon, the outer may struggle, but for lighter day hikes through the occasional bog or rain shower, they're more than enough.
Aside from that comfortable midsole, our favourite part of the shoe is the thick rubber outsole. The thin, closely-set lugs dot the shoe like pointy teeth and offer excellent grip across varied terrain, especially rocks and mountain paths. The only issue we found with them is that they do collect a lot of mud if you're walking across wet fields and tracks, so it may be worth checking out the options on this list if that's you're primary terrain.
Inov-8 Rocfly G 390
It's no surprise that a brand famous for creating some of the best trail running shoes of the last decade has launched a hiking boot built for speed. To highlight that fact, Inov-8 kitted out James Forrest with the Rocfly G 390 during his world record 500-mile hike of Great Britain’s National Three Peaks – not a bad testimonial for a piece of kit.
The Rocfly G 390 is so-called because it weighs in at a lean 390g per boot, which makes it only slightly heavier than many trail running shoes. As a result, its strength lies in its ability to hit the outdoors at pace, offering an agile option if your main focus is freedom of movement and comfort.
The stripped-down design of the shoe does mean that it has limitations, most notably the upper material giving little protection when it comes to technical terrain. But, Inov-8 has taken steps to bolster the shoe's overall durability by adding its not-so-secret weapon: Graphene.
Claimed to be 200 times stronger than steel, the graphite-infused material is used both in the G-Fly midsole of the shoe to increase the energy return for long hikes, and in the outsole's Graphene-Grip rubber to add a high level of durability and traction.
Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore Mid
The Force Striker Texapore is a formidable hiking boot that's best suited to day hikes across varied terrain. The sturdy build and comfortable design, twinned with some hefty technical design features, make it a great option if your outdoor excursions take you from long days covering high mileage to shorter hikes up mid-level terrain.
As well as offering a good level of waterproofing, even when you find yourself stepping into hidden bogs, that same outer membrane is also designed to be breathable, which makes long walks on hotter days significantly more enjoyable.
Those hefty technical features we mentioned include a Force Plate in the forefoot to improve cushioning and stability and Reflex Foam in the EVA midsole, which helps take the edge off when you're out walking all day. There's also the addition of TPU welding on the side and the front which helps maintain a strong, sturdy feel, despite the flexible feel of the lightweight upper.
The Vibram outsole grip does a good job at tackling rocky ascents as well as holding its own over wet, slippy ground. For scrambling and clambering up heavily muddy mountainsides, the lug length isn't as long as we'd have liked.
Weight: 2lbs / 0.9kg
On Cloudrock Waterproof
When it comes to running shoes there aren't many brands that have continued to release as many exciting and innovative new products as On. In 2019 that creativity saw the company take things a step further as it launched its first product for hikers and walkers; the Cloudrock Waterproof.
As you'd expect from On, the boot is a beautifully designed piece of kit – both aesthetically and functionally – taking a heap of tried and tested features from the running shoe range and developing them into a lightweight product made for speed-hiking on tough terrain.
As well as an impressive waterproof membrane that'll cover you for the wettest of hikes, the design incorporates On's Missiongrip rubber outsole, a soft-terrain feature used in the popular Cloudventure trail range. That, combined with a very comfortable fit, makes the Cloudrock one of the best options for day and weekend hikes across muddy and wet ground. We've used them for a number of long-distance walks across the UK countryside and have been consistently impressed with the comfort and the protection.
We have, however, found that the lugs aren't particularly good when walking across slippery, rocky surfaces, so if you're looking for a boot that'll handle more technical routes, they aren't the best option on the list.
Weight: 2lbs / 0.9kg
The perfect boots that mix fashion, function and comfort, these options will look and feel great whether you're wandering the city or taking the scenic route via lighter trails.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX
The Free Hikers GTX is probably the lightest feeling hiking boot we’ve ever come across. Not only does it incorporate the same boost technology that makes adidas running shoes so popular, but it also utilizes a Primeknit uppers, like those seen in the Ultraboost range. The result is a ridiculously comfortable and flexible boot that feels like you’re wearing a trainer.
In this most recent iteration of the Free Hiker, adidas has gone one step further and added a Gore-tex membrane to help battle wet conditions. That update has meant that not only is it a stylish boot that’ll feel ventilated and bouncy whether you’re sightseeing around a city or spending the day walking the trails, but it'll also keep your feet dry when the weather turns.
For heavily technical terrain the Free Hiker GTX isn't the best option, lacking in both upper durability and support for tougher climbs, but the Continental rubber outsole offers a surprising level of grip for moderate walks and hikes.
Weight: 1.9lbs / 0.8kg
Columbia Facet 75 Outdry Waterproof Hiking Shoe
The Facet 75 Outdry is an excellent example of how, for many people, hiking shoes can offer all the benefits of a hiking boot without the associated downsides like weight and cost. Despite its lightweight design, the Facet 75 Outdry has an impressive level of durability and is packed with features to make long hikes as comfortable as possible.
The thick midsole is well balanced, offering plenty of cushioning to minimise impact without feeling soft or unstable. The result is a shoe that feels light and nimble for shorter hikes but has the staying power to protect your legs if you're out all day.
The upper is made from a waterproof-breathable mesh designed to protect the foot from rain or boggy terrain, while at the same time being breathable when things start to heat up. It also features reinforced sections to hold the foot in place alongside a TPU heel clip to provide plenty of support over varied surfaces.
There's also a healthy layer of Adapt Trax outsole rubber for a good level of grip in all conditions. We've used it across wet hikes in the Azore mountains and found it to be a solid performer for full-day trips. If you're looking for one pair of shoes to take away with you on an outdoor holiday, it's one of our top picks.
Weight: 0.9lbs / 0.4kg
Mountain Warehouse Boulder Winter Trekker
The main feature of this boot, aside from the affordable price, is the fact it's specially designed to keep your feet warm in the coldest conditions thanks to the IsoTherm layer. Not only that but it's also waterproof, so if you're planning on taking a long walk in snowy or icy conditions you'll be warm and dry.
As well as offering a durable, long-lasting build it's also one of the comfiest fits you're likely to find, backed up by hundreds of reviews made by customers, making it a perfect option for those who plan to spend a long day out in the cold.
If you're planning on heading up on rockier climbs, however, there are far better options on the list as the rubber outsole grip – although thick and sturdy – lacks the grip of a technically designed boot.
Decathlon Quencha MH500 Mid
If price is your absolute top priority, then you could do a lot worse than some of the Quencha range. They may not be the best looking boots on the market and they won’t stand up to some of the other products in the list in terms of technical specifications, but they’ll do the job when you need it.
The Quencha MH500 is our pick of the bunch when it comes to day and multi-day hikes. A comfortable fit that has a well-built outsole for grip on most surfaces and nice level of cushioning for longer hikes. As far as waterproofing goes, they’ll cover you for the odd bit of rain or the occasional puddle, but don’t expect to get home with dry feet if you’re travelling through bogs or in a heavy downfall – for that, you'll need to invest in some gators.
Weight: 1.7lbs / 0.8kg