Review: Best Hiking Boots
Your feet work hard during hiking adventures, pushing you up steep mountainsides, scrambling over loose rocks, trudging through swift rivers and dance with elation when you finally reach an epic panoramic viewpoint. Choosing the best hiking boots to complement your foot and stride is a virtual necessity to ensure a fun and successful hiking adventure.
This best list examines some of the best hiking boot in 2021 based on support, comfort, attention to detail such as toe guards, ankle support and traction as well as overall performance. Positive consumer reviews were also taken into consideration to further validate manufacturer's claims.
Don't rely solely on the words of others; what may be the most wondrous shoe for one person may hardly be suited for your foot width and natural stride. Do your research, test out boot options on varied surfaces, and leave ample time to break in boots in before venturing out on any hikes.
Asolo Power Matic 200 GV Gore-Tex Hiking Boot
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Shoes Hiking Boot
Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot
Hi-Tec Men's Altitude IV WP Hiking Boot
Best Hiking Boot
Although a pricey option, these Asolo boots are widely reputed to be worth every penny. The Power Matic in the name refers to the boot's insanely advanced midsole which contains triple-density polyurethane in specific areas to provide maximal support and stability while absorbing shock from trail rocks and uneven ground. Try walking over a riverbed of rocks and loose debris in your sneakers and then doing the same thing in these boots, the difference is insane.
These boots prevent ankles from rolling and glide over uneven surfaces like they were perfectly flat and paved. Gore-Tex liners in the boots provide full waterproof protection and Vibram outsoles tackle the toughest terrain. There’s killer midsole technology and full-grain leather uppers which make these boots pretty heavy (close to four pounds depending on shoe size).
The Renegade is the best pick for women's hiking boots with hundreds of positive user reviews raving about this boot's insane level of support and comfort. Nubuck leather and Cordura nylon ankle straps work together to create a reinforced fortress of protection and stability for your foot. The seamless Gore-Tex lining offers excellent and reliable waterproofing while polyurethane monowrap frame construction is extremely supportive and cuts back on overall boot weight.
This boot is available in narrow and wide fits and comes in 11 different colors; just because it's the wilderness doesn't mean you can't express your unique personality. If you typically require extra arch support, consider adding an insert to this boot for additional comfort.
The Targhee II Mid is another super comfortable, top performing women's hiking boot and a more cost effective option than the Renegade. This boot is an excellent choice for day hikes in addition to canyoneering or light backpacking trips. Flip this shoe upside down and you’ll see some hard core 4mm lugs to anchor you to your trail when necessary like wet slippery rocks or black ice.
The KEEN.DRY lining offers great waterproof protection and breathable enough to keep excess heat away from your foot. The boot height and nylon shanks provide ample ankle support and help keep your footing secure while crossing over rugged terrain and uneven areas. Don't worry about accidentally kicking a small cactus or gnarly rock, the rubber toe guards on this boot shield tootsies like a solid brick house.
These boots are phenomenal when it comes to waterproof reliability and overall versatility. While they will serve you well on any epic hiking adventure, they also transition to pretty much any other activity you want to take them on. The outsole is very durable, the lightweight midsole adds welcome cushion, and the waterproof leather upper adds simple yet rugged flair. As an added bonus, the manufacturer offers a one-year warranty and a 60-day Comfort Guarantee.
Best Hiking Boots Buyer's Guide
Happy feet make for happy hiking. Hiking boots are essential to your comfort on the trail. Blistered toes, swollen feet, and sore ankles are no fun. Making sure you have the best hiking boots for the type of trails you enjoy can be a performance game-changer. From hi-tech materials, water-proofing, comfort, and protection, to eco-friendly appeal, there is a perfect fit for every foot.
In this guide, we break down everything you need to know when choosing the best hiking boots for your adventure needs.
What are the Types of Hiking Boots?
Hiking boots can be classified into 3 categories according to their weight or the type of terrain they are designed to traverse.
Trail Shoes or Lightweight Boots
Lightweight hiking boots are designed with light and flexible materials to get you through less rugged trails in dry climates. They are tough enough for day hikes and short overnight adventures with light loads. The use of mesh, nylon, and part-leather allow the shoes to keep a lightweight and lower cost but also compromise the support. The more flexible structure provides less support and ankle stability. They are a great choice for non-technical routes and won’t slow you down.
Trail Hikers or Midweight Boots
Midweight hiking boots are sturdier, higher-cut, and offer better waterproofing than their lightweight counterparts. They are ideal for steeper inclines and muddy tracks. If you are planning to trek more adventurous and uncertain trails, these are a good choice. Although heavier than lightweight boots, they provide the extra protection needed for a comfortable journey.
Hiking Boots or Heavyweight Boots
Also known as mountain boots, these shoes are designed for tough, rocky mountaineering, and heavy backpacking with larger loads. These mountain boots are particularly durable and strong. They provide maximum ankle support, protection, and insulation with stiff soles and thick upper materials. Crampons can be attached to these boots for grip on hard snow and glaciers.
What to Look for When Buying Hiking Boots
Once you’ve decided which type of trekking shoe is best suited to your needs, consider the below factors to narrow down your options.
For all-purpose hiking shoes, it is best to find a good balance between protection and lightweight. Lighter hiking boots usually offer less protection, stability, and support for arduous terrains but are great for fast hikers who require the least resistance and as little extra weight as possible.
If you are carrying a heavy backpack and trekking rough terrains you need the stability, protection, and technical support of a shoe that is going to come in at a heavier weight due to the specialized materials used in its design.
Stiffness and Stability
Stiff hiking boots provide more stability and less flexibility. This prevents the heel of the foot from dropping on ascents which prevents calf fatigue. This is ideal for mountaineering and technical hikes. If you are wanting to move fast over flat terrains, opt for a shoe with more flexibility and a less rigid design.
Soggy socks on the long haul are always best avoided. Many hiking boots are waterproof and include a water-repellent coating to assist in water protection. Waterproofing also provides good insulation for those hiking in cold conditions and higher altitudes.
Keeping water out also means that little moisture can escape from inside the shoe. This may result in hot, sweaty feet. A good alternative, if you are wanting to use your shoes in both hot, dry, and cold, wet conditions, is to cover your shoes with a gaiter only when attempting trails in wet conditions. Although the protection may not be as effective as a water-proofed shoe, the gaiters will still keep water, snow, and debris from entering the top.
Waterproofing affects the breathability of hiking boots. If you need a shoe with good breathability avoid heavyweight leather hiking boots.
The lacing system of a hiking boot is often the last aspect to be considered when purchasing trail shoes. They do however play an important part in the comfort and fit of the boots. Choose a lacing system that holds your foot and fit well.
Laces are easily replaceable. They should be considered as an important part of the shoe that allows you to customize the fit, keep the shoe steady, and enhances comfort. Some hardy hiking boots include locking hooks on the shoe that keep the laces in place extremely well.
The reason most people decide to go ahead and get specialized hiking boots as opposed to their regular trainers is for improved traction. Hiking boots are undoubtedly superior when it comes to steep, slippery, and rocky terrains providing a much better grip. Consider the indentation depth and type of outsole material when choosing your hiking boots since they can be specialized for various terrains.
Larger indentations underfoot provide better grip in mud while sticky rubber is ideal for scrambling. There are entry-level options that do well on general combination trails.
You are inevitably going to kick a rock or a tree-stump along the way, never-mind steep descents which can place a lot of pressure on your toes. Many hiking boots incorporate toe caps or rubber covers for protection in the boot design. Lightweight hiking shoes usually forgo this luxury.
Final Thoughts About Buying Hiking Boots
When it's time for a new pair of hiking boots there is so much more to consider than the color and fashion-forward look of the shoe. Consider the type of terrain you will be hiking, the support required for heavy load back-packing, and the conditions you will be hiking in. Also, take into consideration how technical the hike may be and your fitness level.
Things you can easily swap out after your purchase are laces and insoles, so if you find the near-perfect shoe, remember that you can always make small upgrades to make it a perfectly customized match for your feet.
Best Hiking Boots FAQ
How much toe room should you have in hiking boots?
Hiking boots should provide space for you to wiggle your toes, but not so much that your feet slide around in the shoes. The space between your toe and the tip of the shoe should be a thumb width.
When trying on hiking boots, wear your hiking socks as they are thicker and your feet will swell during the trek. When the shoe is undone, you must be able to fit one finger behind your heel when your toes are in contact with the front of the boot.
If you seem to be between 2 sizes, always choose the slightly larger one. You can reduce the slight oversize by adding an insole if necessary.
What is different between hiking shoes and hiking boots?
Hiking boots are geared towards technical, rugged terrains and carrying heavier backpack loads. They are high-top, over-the-ankle boots providing protection and stability. Hiking shoes on the other hand tend to be low-top shoes with light-weight material designs for faster moving and increased breathability in mild weather conditions.
Should you buy separate insoles for hiking boots?
To optimize the fit of your hiking boot to your specific foot shape replacing generic insoles with your own is highly recommended. Custom insoles can provide the required volume to fill out the boot, improve the fit, provide under arch support, and improve cushioning and impact shock. In the long-run, your insole can make a big difference in preventing discomfort and injuries.