Hiking is one of those fantastic activities that anyone can do. You need a little bit of physical fitness, but not necessarily a whole lot. Hiking can take you to all sorts of exciting places where you can see things you normally don’t get to see.
If you’ve considered hiking for the first time, but don’t really want to buy a whole lot of equipment, the good news is you don’t have too. The most important equipment you need is good quality, comfortable hiking shoes. After all, your feet will be doing most of the work, so you want the best hiking shoes you can afford.
To help you choose the best hiking shoes and get you trekking into the Great Beyond, we’ve checked out some great hiking shoes to get you started.
The Best Hiking Shoe
If all you’re looking for is a pair of men’s waterproof hiking shoes then these KEEN Men’s Targhee II Hiking Shoes are for you. They are made of 100% leather with a breathable membrane so your feet can still breathe and remain dry. The contoured heel lock keeps your foot stable, even when you are trekking through the most rugged terrain and the easy-on heel makes this trouble free to put on. The midsole is made from molded EVA so it cradles your feet for comfort that you’ll love, even on those super long and hard hiking trips. If you like hiking in summer, make sure you also check our guide to the best hiking sandals.
Easy-on heel pull and Torsion stability ESS shank.
Hydrophobic mesh lining
Padded tongue and collar.
Contoured heel lock.
Dual density compression molded EVA midsole
- Modeltarghee ii wp-m-m-Parent
- Weight2.78 pounds
Salomon have come up with this great pair of hiking boots that are more like hiking sneakers. They are incredibly comfortable and grip any terrain you decide to trek through. These shoes will hug your foot and stabilize your ankle, particularly when you are coming downhill’s. You’ll be able to walk at any pace you like without worrying about stumbling. These shoes are well made, comfortable and have been designed especially for hiking. If you need casual footwear, our guide to the best white sneakers might be helpful so check it out.
Made from Textile and Synthetic
Special patterned area on the heel grabs terrain more aggressively.
Available in a range of colors
2 year warranty
- Weight2.42 pounds
Hiking takes you through all types of terrain and the outdoors can be unpredictable. That’s why you should look at these waterproof hiking shoes from Merrell. They give you the support you need when you hit even the roughest mountain trails. The wide foam tongue has been designed to keep debris out of your shoes so you won’t be annoyed by the distraction. The innersole will give you the cushioning and comfort you need to go on those long treks and not have to give up because of sore feet. In a range of rugged, earthy colors, you’ll look and feel like the king of the mountain in these great hiking shoes. Our handy guide to the best walking shoes features more great products like this.
100% Performance Suede Leather and Mesh
Leather, Mesh Upper
Vibram TC5 Outsole
Nylon Arch Shank
Merrell Air Cushion
- ModelMOAB 2 WTPF-M
- Weight4 pounds
The North Face has designed one of the best hiking shoes for men and they have been built to last. These shoes will cradle your feet and support your ankles so you can charge any slope without fear of losing your footing. The soles have great traction so your feet will feel like they are gripping the terrain. The North Face only use top quality materials in the construction of their hiking shoes so you can be sure that they will not let you down when you need their comfort, support and superior terrain gripping qualities. They look every bit as good as they feel. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best golf shoes.
Maximum protection underfoot
Subtle pronation correction
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight2.31 pounds
Adidas has been a trusted name in exceptional quality sporting goods for decades and these hiking shoes are testimony to their dedication to excellence. These are possibly the best lightweight hiking shoes you will ever wear. Your feet will be carefully cushioned thanks to the lightweight EVA midsole and the outsole is made from continental rubber for superior grip. These shoes are perfect in any terrain and they come in a range of fun and trending colors that you’ll love. If you need footwear you can work in, our guide to the best work boots offers some great ideas.
Lining: GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Footwear
Mesh and synthetic upper for lightweight and comfort
Sockliner: Molded sockliner to enhance comfort and fit
Midsole: Lightweight EVA midsole for long term cushioning
Outsole: Continental Rubber for extraordinary grip
- Weight3 pounds
Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3 Running Shoe is one of the most comfortable hiking shoes you will ever put on your feet. Their inspiration comes from the treacherous, rugged terrain of the Wasatch Range and they have been designed to withstand even the most difficult landscape. The superior grip ensures you won’t lose your footing and the lightweight, sporty design means you can charge the mountains at break-neck speed. Most importantly, these shoes are super comfortable so your mind will be on the beautiful landscape you are exploring, and not on your feet. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best Chukka boots, for more great footwearoptions.
All new midsole & outsole
All new upper and improved upper support
Dual-layer Eva midsole with a-bound top layer
Foot-shaped toe box accommodates toe splay
- ModelLONE PEAK 3-M
- Weight2 pounds
When it comes to hiking shoes, you can’t get better than these Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes. These are perfect for the hiking enthusiast who likes to tackle the trails at full speed. They are lightweight and feature Quicklace for those who don’t like to waste time fiddling with conventional laces. The sensifit feature cradles the feet from the midsole all the way to the lacings for superior foot hugging fit. The Gore-Tex techno fabric is designed to keep feet warm and dry even in the most rugged conditions so you can charge the mountain or hike at a leisurely pace. Available in a range of trendy, sporty colors, you’ll look every bit the hiking professional and feel good with every step. For more great durable boots check out our guide to the best Timberland boots.
Textile and Synthetic
Aggressive Grip : Obvious and penetrating traction on soft ground
Precise Foothold : Close-to-foot and comfortable feel
EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning and stability
La Sportiva has come with this exceptional and lightweight hiking shoe that is practical and comfortable. The outer lining is made from Gore-Tex to keep your feet dry in any conditions and the outsole is comprised of Vigram Megagrip to keep your feet stable on any terrain. It also features a protective rubber toe cap so you can avoid stubbing your toes in rough areas and they won’t wear out no matter where you choose to hike. This is a shoe that can take you anywhere. From a mountain trail to the running track, these shoes will not disappoint. For more sporty footwear check out our selection of the best weightlifting shoes.
High resistance to abrasion
Lightweight thanks to PU Techlilte
Vibram MegaGrip Traverse outsole
Trail Bite heel braking platform
- BrandLa Sportiva
- Weight2.88 pounds
There’s no reason why a pair of good hiking shoes can’t look great and these shoes will be a great addition to the active man’s wardrobe. These Columbia hiking shoes have fantastic traction so the risk of slipping on a mountain trail or icy road are minimized. This is a durable and waterproof shoe that will cushion your feet for incredible comfort. The upper layer is a combination of webbing, mesh and leather which is practical and strong. Thanks to Colombia’s Techlilte material, you can trek any surface without feeling the impact. No path is off limits with these hiking shoes. If you need the shoes you can exercise in, check out our list of the best CrossFit shoes.
Cushioned for improved impact absorption
Omni-Grip for superior and stable footing
- Weight4 pounds
When it comes to men’s hiking shoes, comfort is your friend. These hiking shoes form Scarpa are super comfortable for hiking the rugged mountain terrains. The entire shoe cradles your feet and keeps them stable so you won’t stumble on even the roughest surfaces. The rubber toe rand will prevent you from bumping your toes on hidden obstacles where vegetation is thick. The sole is durable and thick to absorb any impact and provide you with optimal comfort. Durable and strong, you’ll trek your way through a whole lot of trails before you notice the wear and tear on these shoes.
Injected EVA midsole provides support and comfort
Rubber toe rand gives you protection from obstacles on the trail
Vibram Spyder II sole for performance in varied terrain
SCARPA Sock-Fit DV construction provides a performance fit
- ModelZEN PRO Hiking Shoe-U
- Weight2.9 pounds
Hiking Shoe Buyers Guide and FAQ
How Do We Choose Our Selection Of Hiking Shoes?
Brand - We like to look at brands that specialize in footwear. Hiking shoes are among the most important shoes you can wear when trekking through rugged terrain so we wanted to make sure the brands we chose to focus on this crucial factor.
Quality - When it comes to hiking shoes, you simply can't skimp on quality. In fact, quality is our main criteria when putting together this selection of hiking shoes. They simply must be well constructed using top of the range materials to ensure the shoes will withstand anything the average hiker can put them through.
Reviews – The customer experience is always a good indicator of a product's pros and cons so we checked the reviews of all the hiking shoes in our selection and chose the ones with a minimum of cons. Of course, each customer is different and has different criteria when it comes to footwear, but reviews are always a good indication of the performance of any products. When it comes to hiking shoes we also checked reviews that included actual hikers. Although there is nothing wrong with wearing hiking shoes in urban areas, we needed to be sure our selection would perform as they should in nature.
Durability – The absolute worst thing a hiker can experience while hiking is for his hiking shoes to fall apart or tear, letting in dirt and water. This is especially treacherous if your shoes fail you several hours into your trek. You are facing several hours back to your starting point with defective shoes. You can just imagine the state of your feet when you manage to limp back. Durability is extremely important when it comes to hiking shoes. You simply cannot afford to have them break or leak half way through a hike. That is why we looked at hiking shoes that a well-made and strong enough to endure even the most rugged hiking trails.
Price – Everyone wants to save money in these challenging economic times, but hiking shoes are one type of footwear you don’t want to be frugal. That doesn’t mean you need to go for the most expensive pair of hiking shoes. You still want value for money and a good, solid pair of shoes that will protect your feet when you hit your favorite trails. We’ve looked at good quality hiking shoes in a range of prices to ensure there is one for every budget.
Features To Look For In Hiking Shoes
Fit – How a hiking shoe fits is without a doubt the most important feature to look for when you want to select yours. If the shoe is too tight, you’ll feel a definite pinch when your feet start to swell after several hours of hiking. Too loose is also bad as your feet will wiggle around inside the shoe which will not increase the likelihood of blisters forming on your feet, you’ll also be hindered from taking your natural strides as you walk and this will lead to pain in your feet, calves and possibly your back as well. Hiking shoes should fit snugly but still have just a little wiggle room for when your feet start to swell. When you put on a well-fitting pair of hiking shoes, your foot will feel cradled and supported, without any discomfort.
Weight – Anyone who has ever been hiking can tell you how painful it can become to walk for several hours in shoes that are too heavy. The best hiking shoes should be made from lightweight materials that allow for proper and mindful walking. When you are hiking uphill in particular, heavy shoes will become an unbearable burden and instead of walking along, enjoying the scrawny, you’ll end up dragging your heavy feet in abject misery. Always try on both hiking shoes before you buy them and make sure they will not be weighing you down.
Materials – To put together a quality hiking shoe you need to start with quality materials. Some hiking shoes are made using leather, others using various textiles. The materials should be thick enough to enough some rough hiking, but not too thick to be overly bulky and clumsy looking. The rubber in the soles needs to be flexible, yet strong so that you maneuver your way around the trails without a worry.
Support & Cushioning – Hiking can take a toll on your feet and if the terrain is hilly and full of rocks, branches and other obstacles you could end up cutting your hike short due to painful feet. Hiking shoes with good support will stabilize your feet and ankles and minimize the risk of you stumbling all over the mountain. You should also look at shoes that cushion your feet. This cushioning effect will eliminate and absorb the impact each time you take a step. Put support and cushioning together and you’ll have an excellent pair of hiking shoes that will see you through even the most rigorous trails for as long as you choose to hike.
Traction – Hiking trails can be treacherous and unpredictable. If your shoes don’t have good soles with rugged treads, you will find yourself hiking as though you are walking on eggshells to prevent slipping. On mountain trails in particular, this can be downright dangerous. You need the deep treads on your hiking shoes to get proper traction. This traction acts almost like a grip on the trails so that each time you take a step, your foot is securely on the ground waiting for your next step. This is especially important if you are hiking in wet or snowy conditions when traction will already be compromised.
Waterproofing – Wet feet are possibly the most uncomfortable conditions you have to deal with at the best of times. When you are out hiking, wet feet are a recipe for disaster. Hiking with wet feet can cause serious damage to your skin and that includes painful blisters. Hiking conditions are not always predictable. Even on a sunny day, you could end up walking through dew covered fields or forests. This moisture can very easily penetrate into your hiking shoes if they don’t have waterproofing. Waterproofing repels moisture so that it almost just rolls off the shoes. If the water can’t seep into your hiking shoes, you’ll be able to hike without worrying about wet feet.
Breathability – Hiking up a mountain is a hot and heavy activity and we humans tend to perspire when we are engaging in physical activity. Or you may already have an existing problem with sweaty feet. For whatever reason, sweaty feet can become a hazard for hikers because sweat equals moisture, and moisture that accumulates in hiking shoes will result in soggy, smelly feet. Some of the most comfortable hiking shoes feature breathable materials that prevent your feet from overheating and will keep your feet relatively cool and dry. This will make it easier for you to hike longer distances, without discomfort.
Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots
First of all, the choice between Hiking Shoes and Hiking Boots is going to come down to personal preference. However, there are some significant difference between the two. Firstly, Hiking Shoes are more lightweight and flexible than Hiking Boots and are more suitable to hiking in dryer, warmer conditions. Hiking boots are thicker and bulkier. They are usually ankle high, which makes them preferable in cooler conditions or if the terrain is wet or snow covered. In terms of materials, hiking shoes are often made from lighter materials, but the features will still be similar to Hiking Boots.
Tips For Staying Comfortable In Your Hiking Shoes
Make sure they fit right! - This is the most tip when it comes to staying comfortable in your Hiking Shoes. If they don’t fit properly you will feel it very early into your hike. When you purchase your hiking shoes, make sure you try them on with thick socks and leave a little bit of wiggle room. After hiking for several hours, your feet will swell and you will really appreciate that tiny little bit of space you afforded yourself.
Choose The Correct Shoe For Your Hike – Depending on where you are planning on hiking, make sure choose the right hiking shoes for the job. If you plan on hiking on a cold day you should look at having waterproof shoes. On the other hand, if you’re planning on trekking on a hot, sunny day, go for shoes with breathable mesh so your feet don’t end up a sweaty mess. Of course, you can always choose shoes that are waterproof and breathable to cover all your bases.
Walk In Your Shoes Before You Hike In Them – Before you take your shoes for a hike on a rugged mountain trail, walk around in them in your neighborhood first. You need to break your shoes in at least a little bit before attempting a hike in them.
Wear Good Socks – The right pair of socks could make or break you when you hike. Cotton is a natural fiber, but it also absorbs moisture. If your feet start to sweat, cotton socks will absorb and retain the moisture and you will end up with wet feet quite quickly. Opt for woolen socks or synthetic socks that have been especially designed for hiking as they wick moisture away from your feet. While you’re at it, always pack an extra pair of socks in case your first pair gets wet or too sweaty.
Bring Along A First Aid Kit – Hiking in the wilderness is not without it risks and despite your attention to care and details, you could scratch your ankles or get blisters. Bring along a first aid kit so that you are prepared for any mishaps. If you do get a blister you should avoid the temptation to pop it. Popping a blister will only give you temporary relief and may lead to infection. Try to cushion the area around the blister until you can get it treated properly.
Get A Pedicure – Long toenails are a huge problem when you’re hiking. They limit the wiggle room in your hiking shoes and make walking incredibly uncomfortable. Before going hiking book yourself in for a pedicure. OK, maybe not. At the very least, carefully trim your toenails making sure you don’t cut them too short. You don’t want the edges digging into your toenail beds.
Let Your Feet Rest, When You Rest – When you’re taking a break from hiking, take your shoes and socks off and let your feet cool down and breathe. Sit in the shade and relax for a while, or if you are near a cool, clear stream, relax with your feet in the water. Your feet will feel refreshed and rested for the next part of your trek. Just be sure to get your feet properly dried before you put your socks and hiking shoes on again.
Hiking Shoe FAQs
Q: What Are Hiking Shoes?
A: Hiking shoes are similar to hiking boots. They have both been designed to grip the terrain you choose to hike through. However, unlike hiking boots which are higher above the ankle joint, hiking shoes more closely resemble sneakers. They are, however, more rugged, durable and have thicker soles which offer more traction when you want to trek off the beaten track. Hiking shoes are preferable than boots for hiking in warmer weather as they allow for more movement and a faster pace.
Q: Are All Hiking Shoes Water Resistant?
A: Water resistant hiking shoes are a must for hiking in cooler conditions or if you like to start your hikes early in the morning when the fields are covered in dew. However, not all hiking shoes are water resistant. While many hiking shoes these days are water resistant, some hiking shoes have been specifically designed for dry, desert-like terrain where water resistance is not a necessity.
Q: Do I Need To Wear Some Special Socks With Hiking Shoes?
A: You don’t necessarily need to wear special socks with Hiking Shoes, however, it is advisable to do so. Good socks that have been designed with hiking in mind are breathable, to keep your feet comfortable and dry. They are multi-layered which will offer your feet additional comfort and support and many brands of hiking socks are made from synthetic textiles that wick moisture away from your feet which is crucial for those long, hot hikes.
Q: What Is The Right Way To Lace My Hiking Shoes?
A: There are a number of ways to lace your hiking boots. You can experiment with various knots such as the Surgeon’s Knot or the Double Overhand Knot. Whichever style of know you choose, you should always loosen your laces before you put your shoes on. Once you put them on, you should tighten each section of the lacing so that you are not adding unnecessary pressure to any parts of your foot. Once you have tightened each section of lacing, then you may choose the knot of your choice.
Q: Is Gore-Tex The Best Waterproof Breathable Membrane?
A: There are many different products that claim to be waterproof and breathable and they are used in a variety of sporting apparel. However, Gore-Tex is by far the best waterproof breathable membrane. The beauty of Gore-Tex is that it repels water and stops it from coming into something like your hiking shoes, while at the same time it is breathable and expels perspiration from your shoes. This makes Gore-Tex an outstanding material to use in the production of multi-purpose hiking shoes and other apparel often favored by hikers.
Q: How To Wash Hiking Shoes?
A: You should look at washing your hiking shoes after every hike. Hiking is strenuous and your feet will most likely sweat leaving bacteria in the insoles. If left unwashed, this bacteria can multiply and this will result in nasty, smelly shoes and feet. Then too, hiking will take you over some grubby terrain and if not cleaned off after each hike, it will accumulate and decrease the life of your shoes.
When it comes time to clean your shoes;
- Remove the laces and insoles and wash them separately in warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and leave them out to dry completely.
- Brush off any caked on dirt and grime.
- Give the outside of your boots a good scrubbing using warm water and a mild detergent.
- Remove the soap with a clean, damp cloth.
- Allow your hiking shoes to dry completely before re-inserting the insole and the laces.
- Apply a waterproofing compound. Most of these come in spray form which is easy to apply.
- If your shoes are leather, apply leather conditioner with a soft cloth.
- Don’t dry your shoes in direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade or in a warm spot in your home.
Hiking is the perfect way to experience nature and if you choose the right hiking shoes, your focus will be on the hike, your fellow hikers and the incredible sights before you. That is why the best hiking shoes are the ones you will barely notice. Hiking is about having fun and enjoying an up-close-and-personal encounter with nature. The last experience you want is achy feet. Get yourself a great pair of hiking shoes and start exploring some great hiking trails.