The Best Hiking Boots of 2023

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Best Overall

Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX



SEE IT

Runner Up

Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex



SEE IT

Best Budget

Merrell Moab 2



SEE IT

Of all the hiking apparel, it’s your boots that hold the most weight. The best hiking boots are the ones that not only support you on the terrain you’re crossing and are durable enough to do the job for miles, but they also need to protect your feet from the elements and friction caused by hiking in any conditions. 

When you picture hiking boots, your mind may flash to images of bulky boots clunking over rocks. But more and more of the hiking boot market is shifting towards higher functioning, lightweight options. Now, with so many varying styles of hiking boots, hikers have boots that will suit their personal preferences as well as the climate, season, and specific terrain they’re hiking across. 

Best Overall: Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTXRunner Up: Salomon Quest 4 Gore-TexBest Budget: Merrell Moab 2 Mid WPBest Lightweight: DayLite Hiker FusionBest for Winter: Merrell Thermo Overlook 2Best Lightweight Winter Boot: Oboz Bridger Insulated WPBest Waterproof: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

How We Made Our Picks

Blisters, hot spots, sprains, lost toenails, you name it, and I’ve probably had it while hiking at least once. Even with the best hiking boots, these can be issues. So, with ill-fitting shoes, these issues are amplified. 

Finding the right hiking boot for you can take time, and maybe a hiking boot isn’t the right option for you, and a trail runner or hiking shoe works better. Some trial and error can work, but an easier way is to identify your needs and preferences when it comes to hiking and then work through the options with all of the buying considerations we laid out above. 

In choosing our top picks for the best hiking boots, we considered all of those aspects, along with the knowledge that comes with wearing both good and bad boots on the trail. 

Beyond what was covered in the “things to consider before buying” section, we looked at: 

Intended use: Does this boot fit my needs? How often will I use these? Under what conditions am I hiking? What is the climate and weather? What type of terrain am I covering?Sustainability: What materials are used? Does the company use and enforce any sustainability practices? How long do the boots last? Is there a repair policy?Durability: What materials are used? How long do the boots last? Do I need to know specific maintenance to ensure longevity? 

Other things like product testing, verified customer reviews, company referrals, and information about the whole product life cycle were also taken into account. 

Best Hiking Boots: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX

Best Overall

Why It Made The Cut: The Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX is a lightweight waterproof boot, providing all day comfort on the trail with no break-in period.

Key Features

Weight: 320gBoot Type: lightweightBest Use: hiking, backpacking

Pros

Versatile design Unbeatable tractionSurprisingly waterproof Lightweight 

Cons

Takes a while to dryLaces feel flimsy

New in 2022, the Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX is my top pick for the best hiking boots, and they are potentially the best hiking boots I’ve ever tested. After wearing them on daily hikes, extended backpacking trips, and even while padding, these boots have been put through the wringer. Tecnica takes a unique approach and integrates aspects of its ski boot design into its hiking boots. A part of that is right out of the box, these boots are ready to go. There is no break-in period (seriously). The lightweight design makes them easy to wear all day while still giving the hiker a desired level of support and traction.

If you’re looking for waterproof hiking boots, look no further. The Gore-Tex waterproofing of these boots is impressive. You can wear these through tall wet grasses, mud, rain, and even canoe camping with minimal issues. To put these boots to the waterproof test, I wore them on a four-day canoe trip in the rain, while paddling, in camp, and portaging. My feet stayed dry when I stepped in and out of the water while loading and unloading the canoe. The only time moisture reached the boot’s interior was when paddling in a sudden downpour. Since the water could enter the top of the boot and soak the tongue, the interior got wet. Despite getting the inside of the boots wet, they were dry enough that I could wear them the next day. For how light and breathable the boots are, I did expect them to dry a little bit faster, though.

Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX boots in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota. Meg Carney

The next test was a backpacking trek through mountainous terrain. The boots remained stable and gripped rocks well when wet, and the traction provided sure footing on class 4 rocky terrain in the Cascades. These boots are true to size, but the toe box is somewhat narrow (not the best for wide feet). Despite this, the shoe’s fit ensured that my toes were protected. After a steep nine-mile downhill on the last day, I was pleasantly surprised that I had no blisters or hot spots by the time we got back to the car.

These boots are easily among the best hiking boots I’ve tested. The one downside to such a good waterproof boot is that they are not very breathable. The traction keeps you steady even on slippery, uneven surfaces; they have a sleek design and provide all-day comfort no matter the conditions. After having these boots for at least six months and wearing them nearly daily on hikes, I can say that they hold up well and are pretty durable.

Runner Up: Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex

Best Overall

Why It Made the Cut: The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex excels in all the areas a hiking boot should, and it will soon become your favorite hiking partner even on the rockiest mountain terrain. 

Key Features

Weight: 2.9 pounds (pair)Boot Type: midweightBest Use: backpacking

Pros

Highly water resistantExceptional stability Longevity and durability 

Cons

High priceMinimal breathability 

As the best hiking boots overall, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex hiking boot is the best of the best, all wrapped up into one high-performing package. It provides exceptional protection against all forms of weather with the Gore-Tex waterproof design, along with the stability and traction necessary in the mountains. 

These are among the most stable backpacking boots out there, and when hiking with a heavy pack on uneven terrain, you can trust their traction and ankle support. It even has a taller cuff ankle and many other options to provide even better support and protection. 

You’ll be happy with the Salomon Quest 4 on extended treks, weekend backpacking trips, and even a strenuous day hike, as it provides customizable comfort, unmatched stability, and optimal traction. The only downside of this shoe is that it is not very breathable due to the waterproof design, and it is pretty heavy, making it hard to pack and a bit clunky for some folks. Still, we felt that the functionality of the boot far outweighed these few things. 

Best Budget: Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP

Best Budget

Why It Made the Cut: The Merrell Moab 2 is a durable and high performing lightweight hiking boot that doesn’t break the bank. 

Key Features

Weight: 2.25 pounds (pair)Boot Type: lightweight Best Use: day hiking, short backpacking trips

Pros

AffordableExcellent fit and comfortImproved and updated design 

Cons

Doesn’t feel supportive enough for tough terrain or heavy loads

The Merrell Moab 2 is not only the best budget hiking boots, but it performs exceptionally well on maintained trails. It’s perfect for hikers and weekend backpackers that tend to stick to maintained trails or less rocky terrain. It remains a popular hiking shoe because of the level of comfort it provides, and Merrell remains one of the best brands for wide feet. 

It is a waterproof hiking boot, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily have the best breathability. It does an excellent job with overall protection when hiking, and the new design improved overall shock absorption, waterproofing, and durability of the upper. 

Although this is a well-performing shoe in most respects, the low price correlates directly to lower quality materials, making it less durable overall. That means this may be a good starter shoe or strictly a day hiking shoe, but if used for the majority of your hiking, you will be replacing it after a year or two of consistent use. 

Best Lightweight: DayLite Hiker Fusion

Best Lightweight

Why It Made the Cut: The DayLite Hiker Fusion from Xero Shoes is likely the most minimalist shoe design you’ll find. Not only that, but it beats out many other shoe options in terms of durability. 

Key Features

Weight: 1.5 pounds (pair)Boot Type: lightweightBest Use: day hiking

Pros

Improved grip and traction Affordable Easy to maintain, durable

Cons

Minimalist design may feel too minimal for some hikers

Xero Shoes is changing the shoe industry by helping its customers “live life feet first.” Their DayLite Hiker Fusion is a hiking boot that will surprise many hikers with its lightweight design paired with extreme durability which is why these boots are our pick for the best lightweight hiking boots. The shoe is designed for more than just a walk but may not be the best for super-technical terrain. 

It provides plenty of grip and traction for hiking on well-maintained trails, and the upper is durable enough to protect and support your feet. The minimal 10mm FeelTrue® sole features a 3.5mm lugged dual Chevron tread as a redesigned feature to provide more grip and traction when hiking. 

The upper is abrasion-resistant and built to last when used for more casual hikes. The fit and feel of Xero Shoes may be different than what many hikers are used to, but their reviews and comfort speak for themselves. As one of the most minimal and lightest weights (only 12.4 ounces per boot), you’ll be surprised how happy your feet are in these shoes and how long they will last you when cared for properly. 

Best for Winter: Merrell Thermo Overlook 2

Best for Winter

Why It Made the Cut: Merrell’s Thermo Overlook 2 Boots provide necessary traction in the winter with Arctic Grip Vibram soles, along with a waterproof shell to protect your feet from rain, sleet, and snow. 

Key Features 

Weight: 2 pounds 9 ouncesInsulation: 200g M SelectBest Use: ice and mixed winter conditions 

Pros

Protection: durable, waterproof, insulated Design: sturdy build with great traction Variation: different Overlook insulation options 

Cons 

Height: low shaft height (6.5 inches), not great for deep snow

The Merrell Thermo Overlook 2 are classic winter boots that work well for chores, hiking, and daily use. These boots provide 200 grams of insulation which is usually enough for most winter activities, but if you’re looking for more, their Tall Waterproof version utilizes 400 grams. The tall version also solves the issue of a low shaft height. The only problem with that they can feel stiff and clunky compared to the Thermo Overlook design. 

The Arctic Grip Vibram soles provide ideal winter shoe traction, and the 5mm lug depth of the soles minimizes snow build-up. The boots have a full-grain leather upper with a rubber wrap-around band. The band extends high enough for waterproof coverage when walking in wet, snowy conditions.

While the insulation may seem on the light side, these boots still offer enough warmth without being too bulky. I prefer less insulation for hiking to prevent moisture build-up from sweat as you walk. If you are standing or sitting for long periods, your feet may get cold. 

Best Lightweight Winter Boot: Oboz Bridger Insulated WP

Best Lightweight Winter Boot

Why It Made the Cut: The Obox Bridger Insulated WP boots provide optimal comfort, durability, and functionality whether you are hiking or snowshoeing. 

Key Features

Weight: 2.6 pounds (pair)Boot Type: heavyweightBest Use: snowshoeing, hiking, backpacking

Pros

Winterized rubber outsoleOptimal stability on uneven terrainReinforced heel and toe for added protection

Cons

Not fully waterproof and won’t perform ideally when trudging through deep snow

The Oboz Bridger Insulated WP boots are a top performer for winter recreation. If you are looking to hike, snowshoe, or even backpack throughout the snowiest months, the Oboz Bridger is the best winter hiking boots at an affordable price. 

The Oboz Bridger performs best for activities like snowshoeing or hiking on ice or hard snow. Although they are marked as waterproof, they aren’t necessarily the best option if you’re looking for a boot to trudge through deep snow for hours at a time. In those conditions, it is a more accurate label to say these are water-resistant. Keep in mind that hiking in deep snow works best with higher-top boots, and moisture can quickly get into the boot from the top. So, pairing these with gaiters will give you the ideal warmth, comfort, and dryness for most winter hiking conditions. 

A stand-out feature for these winter hiking boots is the winterized rubber and intentional outsole design that wraps up the toe and the heel. These aspects improve grip, durability, and comfort, especially on slippery trails. 

Best Waterproof: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Best Waterproof

Why It Made the Cut: The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid combines comfort, durability, and waterproofing for the ideal backpacking boot designed to keep your feet dry, even during the rainy season making it our choice for the best waterproof hiking boots. 

Key Features

Weight: 2.4 pounds (pair)Boot Type: midweightBest Use: backpacking

Pros

Durable Nubuck Leather UpperSticky, multidirectional lug pattern for better traction Exceptional waterproofing

Cons

Not very breathable 

If you’re looking for a waterproof backpacking boot that seemingly has it all, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid should be a top contender. Coming in both men’s and women’s sizes for slim and wide feet, you’re likely to find a pair that matches your needs. 

The entire boot design affords the wearer comfort while hiking from the midsole to the upper and beyond. You’ll enjoy a somewhat cushy PU midsole to add comfort when logging long miles without skimping on durability. Then, the shape of the boot itself ensures that there is no heel popping or slipping inside the boot after you’ve been hiking for a while. 

Along with excellent traction, these boots utilize a robust leather upper and waterproof membrane for some of the best waterproofing on the market. The only downside to such waterproof boots is that they are not very breathable. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Hiking Boots

As with any piece of clothing, there are numerous considerations to sort through before making your purchase. So, to ensure you get the perfect pair of boots for your next adventure, read through not only our top picks but the buying considerations and methodology as well. That way, if we didn’t list any boots that fit your needs, you will have all the tools you need to make an educated buying decision. 

Type of Hiking Boot

When you are researching hiking boots, take notice of the weight and type of the boot. Most of the time, we can group hiking boots into three categories or types: 

Lightweight: If you like the comfort and mobility of trail running shoes, lightweight hiking boots are an excellent choice. They utilize much of the same technology as trail runners, but they also include a higher collar and lacing system. That way, you have slightly more ankle protection with the feel of a running shoe. The only downside is that the lighter weight materials tend to be less durable than heavier boot styles. (If you’re looking specifically for lightweight hikers, you can check out our round up of the best lightweight men’s hiking boots.)

Midweight: These tend to be the most popular style of hiking boots for weekend backpackers and serious day hikers. While utilizing some of the same materials and styles as lightweight boot options, midweight boots will have a more durable toe box area and a thicker sole with more aggressive traction. While some lightweight boots may include water resistance, midweight boots are where you might start to see waterproof options. 

Heavyweight: The classic hiking boot you picture for climbing over rocky terrain on an extended backpacking trip are heavyweight hiking boots. These are typically made with waterproof Gore-Tex lined uppers or a durable, long-lasting material like leather. You can guarantee that these will have over-the-ankle support and a high lacing system for optimal stability on the rockiest or snowiest terrain. Heavyweight boots usually take the longest to break in due to their stiff and robust materials, so make sure you give yourself a long enough break-in period before taking them on a hike. 

Uppers and Ankle Support

Not all, but most hiking boots will have some ankle support. Several crossover shoe designs are closer to trail runners with no ankle coverage. These will resemble many lightweight hiking boots as they have a thicker sole and are a tad clunkier than running shoes. Like running shoes, they are cut off just below the ankle, so they will not protect or support that area of your body. 

All boots and shoes have an upper. This part of the shoe is the material that attaches to the rubber sole and protects your foot. The materials they are made from may vary from shoe to shoe. 

The most commonly utilized upper shoe materials include:

Synthetics: Nylon is a popular material for hiking shoes due to its durability. Nylon is often used in woven panels and open mesh areas for breathability. The durability of nylon paired with its lightweight made it a popular option for shoe uppers. The one downside to nylon is that it absorbs moisture much faster than a leather counterpart. There are synthetic materials, like Gore-Tex, that can allow for shoe-upper waterproofing. 

Nubuck Leather: Common for midweight style hiking boots, Nubuck leather has a suede-like feel that is lighter, more breathable, and more flexible than full-grain leather. The downside is that it is not quite as durable as full-grain leather but still has higher durability than nylon. Many brands choose to mix Nubuck leather and nylon mesh to provide more durability than the mesh alone. 

Full-Grain Leather: Incredibly durable, tough, and water-resistant, full-grain leather is a popular choice for heavyweight boots. A one-piece leather upper is only typically seen on high-end boot collections like Danner’s or Zamberlan. Full-grain leather uppers require more maintenance and care than other materials, but they will outlast everything else if they are well cared for. 

Most hiking boots on the market today will be a blend of synthetic materials like nylon, along with some mesh and leather. Some brands make full-leather options, but a blend continues to be more common. Keep in mind that blended materials are harder to recycle or reuse, but they continue to be blended as it improves durability and performance to the shoe design. 

Midsole Types

The rubber sole of the boot will act as part of the shock absorption as you hike, but the midsole type can improve your comfort when hiking on rocky, hilly terrain. When looking at the types of hiking boots, the midsole types correspond with the weight class. 

So, lightweight hiking boots tend to use a thin fastpacking midsole to cut down weight, but they won’t provide as much comfort or shock absorption. Then on the other end, you will have thick, stiff midsoles in heavyweight hiking boots. 

The most common materials used for hiking boot midsoles include: 

EVA Foam: Varying in feel from moderately stiff to soft and cushy, most hikers prefer an EVA foam midsole on the stiffer side. Not all EVA foam midsoles will be made of the same quality EVA materials, and the construction can break down with use. If you’re a hiker who logs long, hard miles, then a high-quality EVA foam midsole is necessary. In general, the softer the EVA foam in the midsole, the less durable it will be, but it should be comfortable on your feet. 

PU (Polyurethane): Less cushy than EVA foam, PU is more durable and holds its shape longer. A PU midsole is a better option for longer hikes and heavy loads. It tends to be found in heavyweight hiking boots, but some midweight boots utilize it. In most cases, PU lasts longer than EVA foam and will provide more substantial foot isolation against rough terrain. 

Like with shoe uppers, midsoles may be a combination of materials, meaning that many midsoles are EVA foam and PU mixed to improve durability and performance. 

Outsoles and Traction 

One significant thing that sets hiking boots apart from even trail runners is the sturdy traction they provide. The outsoles tend to be thicker, more durable to help hikers navigate unstable terrain. 

While other shoe rubber options exist, Vibram soles continue to dominate the market, especially for hiking shoes. Vibram rubber is tailored to match the specific footwear and brands, so although it is a reputable rubber, the quality and traction will differ according to the design. 

When choosing boots, it is essential to look at the traction. To identify how the sole will perform on the trail, look at the lugs on the shoe’s bottom. The larger the lugs, the better the shoe will perform in muddy or snowy conditions. If you are scrambling over rocks, you might need smaller lugs and stickier rubber. 

All in all, no matter the brand of rubber, look at the lug depth and read the shoe’s description of the compound type. That will provide the information you need to see where that particular outsole performs best. 

Lacing Systems

Lacing systems should be considered. If you have a bad lacing system on a hiking boot, the fit is prone to loosening. As your boot loosens, there is more room for your foot to shift around, throwing off your stability and increasing the likelihood of hot spots and blisters from the added friction. Not only that, but you’ll be stopping more often to adjust your boots! 

While bad laces can also cause this, it can help to ensure you have a quality lacing system. When looking at shoes, you may notice that some hiking boot designs, especially lightweight and some midweight boots, utilize a single-pull lacing system. This system is convenient and save time when putting on your boots, but the downside is that it no longer allows for a customizable fit. 

Heavyweight hiking boots will almost always have relatively advanced and customizable lacing systems. You will notice that they include locking hooks all the way up, getting close to the ankle providing even better stability and security when moving over rough terrain. 

Waterproofing and Breathability 

Not all hiking boots are fully waterproof, but many have water resistance. Waterproof boots often utilize Gore-Tex as part of the exterior or as a full interior lining. If the shoes do not have a fully waterproof barrier of some kind, they will have a water-resistant coating. These coatings will need to reapplied after use as they are not a part of the material and are a separate layer. 

While waterproofing is a nice feature, especially when hiking in wet climates or seasons, it does impact other performance aspects. The biggest downside to waterproof boots is that they are not very breathable. That means that if your feet are sweating in hot weather, that moisture is gathering and unable to dry effectively. 

The least breathable waterproof hiking boots are going to be leather with a Gore-Tex lining. An alternative is to get a water-resistant boot with more breathability, and then you can add gaiters as needed for wet weather or snow. However, waterproofing will work for most hikers, especially those hiking in mountainous regions. In areas that receive less precipitation, like the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, more breathable boots are a better option. (Hiking in winter environments? Take a peek at our round up of best winter hiking boots.)

Other Features

Other things that may impact a buying decision include toe protection, insoles, and width. Although online buying is increasingly common, when it comes to hiking boots, it can be helpful to try them on in person. 

When hiking on exceptionally rocky terrain, having more protection on the toe box prevents you from stubbing your toes and improves the durability of that part of the shoe. If you’re trying to picture the toe protection on most hiking shoes, it is not like a steel-toed boot. Usually, the shoe is designed with a thick rubber bumper over the toe box area. 

The insoles of most hiking boots come with a stock insole that is flat and not necessarily all that comfortable. These insoles are removable, and you can replace them yourself with an insole that fits your foot better for a more comfortable fit. 

Several other aspects of boots may be important to you and your foot shape. Getting to know what feels comfortable to you when you’re hiking will help you find the right shoe style over time. And having the right socks always helps—check out our picks for the best hiking socks.

FAQs

Q: What are the three types of hiking boots?

The three types of hiking boots include lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. Learn more about each of these in the buying considerations section of this article. 

Q: What makes a boot good for hiking?

What makes a boot good for hiking varies from person to person and can change depending on the type of hike and type of terrain. In general terms, the boot should be durable, comfortable, improve hiker stability, and have appropriate traction for the terrain. 

Q: How much do hiking boots cost?

Hiking boots cost anywhere from USD 80-200+. The type of boot, quality of the materials, and overall features all tie into the price of the boot itself. When it comes to outdoor gear, the amount you spend on it often correlates to the projected longevity. So, if you want a quality boot that will last you years to come, you will be paying a higher price. 

Q: Should I get waterproof hiking boots?

Waterproof hiking boots are not necessary for all climates or seasons. They will be a good choice for most hikers, especially if you enjoy hiking in the shoulder seasons. If you are hiking in hot and dry conditions, a more breathable and less waterproof shoe will be better. 

Q: Hiking boots vs hiking shoes: Which do I need?

Hiking boots and hiking shoes both get the job done and have advantages. Hiking boots provide better ankle support, ideal traction, better protection from the elements, and are usually very durable. They also tend to be clunky, heavy, take time to break-in, are harder to pack and take longer to dry if they do get wet. Hiking shoes are lighter weight, don’t take much time to break-in, are easy to pack, comfortable, and dry quickly. However, they do not provide as good of ankle support or overall protection from elements as hiking boots do. 

Q: What is the best hiking shoes for wide feet?

The best hiking shoes for wide feet will have a wider toe box and be less narrow following to the heel. Traditionally, Merrell and Keen have standard shoe designs that work well for people with wide feet. You can also find many brands that make hiking shoes specifically for wide feet. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Hiking Boots

The best hiking boots are the ones that fit your fit and your personal hiking needs. No one foot is the same (even your two feet may differ!). Even if you did not find hiking boots on our list that works for you, we feel confident that using our buying considerations will lead you down the right path. 

The post The Best Hiking Boots of 2023 appeared first on Field & Stream.

Articles may contain affiliate links which enable us to share in the revenue of any purchases made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.