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A stout, dependable hiking boot is your ticket to the wilderness. Whether you’re approaching an alpine climb or whitewater run, packing into the backcountry for a two-week trip, or merely out for a day hike with the wife and kids at your local state park, having a pair of solid hiking boots is the first step in almost any outdoor endeavor.
Simply put, you aren’t going to get far without the right pair of hiking boots. This probably explains why hiking shoe sales are skyrocketing right now, as more folks experience the outdoors than ever before.
While hiking boots can vary widely in price, generally, they’re a piece of outdoor gear that can last quite a long time. (As a full-time mountain and adventure travel journalist, I’ve put over 1,000 hard alpine miles on my current boots, and they’re still in great shape.) The moral of the story here is that if you plan to spend a lot of time on the trail, don’t shy away from a slightly more expensive pair simply to save cash. A durable, high-quality boot is a solid investment.
The Different Types of Hiking Boots for Men
The main divisions between hiking boots relate to how sturdy the boot is and how high above the ankle it stretches. There are three main classes of hiking boots, outlined below.
1. Hiking Shoes
Hiking shoes run below the ankle and typically feature flexible midsoles and lighter builds. These shoes are a great option for day hikes, particularly on mellow, well-tracked terrain. If you’re carrying an overnight pack, you probably want something that hits above the ankle for more support. However, many experienced backpackers prefer to go backpacking in hiking shoes, or even rugged trail running shoes.
Hybrids are a blend between backpacking boots and the hiking shoes we discussed above. They may sit just above the ankle, but don’t offer the firm ankle support that true backpacking boots do. These boots will flex well and be easier to break in, but don’t have the same support or durability in their internal frame that standard hiking boots offer. They’re a great option for day hikes and short backpacking trips with light loads. Hybrid shoes are also generally quite breathable, so many choose to use hybrids on summer hiking trips.
3. Backpacking Boots
Backpacking boots are probably what you think of when you think of hiking boots. Rugged and above-the-ankle, these boots feature stout midsoles and uppers that provide support for carrying heavy loads over rough terrain on multi-day trips. That said, many backpacking boots work great for day hikes as well. For cold weather hiking, even during day trips, backpacking boots are a great choice — simply because their sturdier, bulkier build means they’re almost always warmer than hybrids or hiking shoes.
How to Find the Best Men’s Hiking Boots for Your Needs
What you’re looking for in your hiking boots really depends on what purpose you want them to fulfill. Like we discussed above, there’s a variety of hiking boots to fit various outdoor missions.
Here are the main components of a hiking boot:
- Upper: The material used to construct the boot upper will play a role in the boot’s weight, water resistance, overall durability and breathability. Many hiking boots are constructed with leather uppers, whether full-grain, split-grain or nubuck. Synthetics, like polyester and nylon, are also common upper materials, while many styles employ waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex. Each material has its tradeoffs. Full-grain leather is more durable but less breathable than synthetics, for example.
- Midsole: The shoe midsole provides support and cushion for the bottom of your foot. If you’re hiking on scree or talus, for example, you’ll want a stiffer midsole to absorb the impact. Most midsoles are either EVA or polyurethane. The former is lighter, cushier and cheaper, while polyurethane is typically a bit more stout and is a common midsole material for backpacking boots.
- Outsole: The outsole is what comes into contact with the trail, so it needs to be rugged and provide adequate grip. Almost all boot outsoles use rubber, though additives like carbon are often added to backpacking boots to make the outsole more firm and durable. Hiking boots also incorporate lugs (small bumps and ridges) on the outsole to provide traction. Thicker, deeper lugs are used on backpacking boots, while hiking shoes will have thinner, smaller lugs. If you’re planning on doing a lot of alpine scrambling or hiking over talus and scree, then a tacky rubber outsole will come in handy. For wetter, muddier terrain, widely-spaced lugs can help shed mud easier.
- Internal Structure: The internal structure of your boot is one of the most important aspects. Some styles, like hiking shoes, will feature minimal internal support. Backpacking boots should have sturdy internal support to keep your ankle secure when packing heavy loads on uneven terrain. Inserts like plates and shanks are commonly found in backpacking boots to help keep your foot secure in your shoe.
In addition to the above features, if you’re looking at snow hiking or mountaineering, crampon and microspike compatibility is another factor to consider.
Ahead, shop the best hiking boots for men — many of which this author has personally tested — from respected brands like Merrell, Timberland, Hoka One One and more.
Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes
Best Men’s Hiking Shoe for Warm Weather
At $120, the Moab Speed from Merrell is a stellar budget option, but it’s a high-quality hiking shoe, too. This lightweight shoe features an ultra-breathable mesh and TPU upper coupled with a 100% mesh lining. A toe cap and rock plate offer solid rock protection, while an EVA foam insole with a 50% recycled top sheet provides eco-friendly internal comfort you can feel proud of. The Vibram outsole sports tacky 4mm lugs, great for scrambling moderate terrain. For fast-moving, warm-weather missions, the Merrell Moab Speed is an affordable and reliable choice.
Arc’teryx Aerios FL Hiking Shoes
Best for Technical Hikes and Scrambles
I appreciate my Aerios FL’s Vibram Megagrip outsole when scrambling on techy terrain, but the minimalist build makes it a stellar lightweight hiking shoe across the board. An integrated TPU shank provides decent support, while the outsole is breathable enough for warm weather hiking. I’ve taken this shoe on several Class IV scrambles in the Colorado Rockies, and it performs almost as well as an approach shoe but is much more comfortable when it comes to longer day hikes in the 20-mile range.
Timberland Garrison Trail Boots
Most Stylish Trail Boot
If you’re looking to add a little swag to your trail attire, the leather Timberland Garrison Trail boots are a great way to do that without compromising on quality or functionality. Made with ReBOTL recycled material (which contains at least 50% recycled PET), and built with leather sourced from a tannery rated Gold or Silver for environmental responsibility by the Leather Working Group, these boots are also eco-friendly. The Timberland Garrison Trails are sure to turn a few heads when you bust ‘em out in the backcountry.
Salomon Quest 4 Hiking Boots
Best Day Hike/Backpacker Hybrid Boots
The Salomon Quest 4 provides a high level of foot protection and support with a sturdy build thanks to the innovative ADV-C 4D Chassis. This is a supportive shoe that still allows you to move fast, and it was inspired by Salomon’s trail running expertise. According to Salomon’s website, the Quest 4 boot “respects the natural flexion of your foot for a smooth ride that flows from step to step.
This is a stellar option for an avid trail runner or day hiker who simply can’t imagine giving a hiking boot a chance. The Quest 4 offers the lightweight, propulsion-focused build of a trail shoe with the support of a boot, which is critical for overnight trips with full packs. This boot, in my opinion, is the best day hiking/backpacking hybrid available on the market right now.
Arc’teryx Acrux TR Gore-Tex Boots
Best Men’s Hiking Boots for Alpine Backpacking
The Arc’teryx Acrux TR Gore-Tex boots have been my go-to hiking boot for the last year, so I’ll do a deep dive here.
I’ve logged over 1,000 miles in these boots, and they’ve held up well. I took them to the summit of Mexico’s Pico de Orizaba, the third-tallest mountain in North America, and they performed well with crampons and kept my feet warm in the ice and snow. They also have been to the summit of over 50 14,000-foot peaks in the U.S., performing well on the rock. I took them on a 2,000-kilometer motorcycle trip through the jungles of Guatemala, and they worked well on the bike, too.
Here are my two cents: The waterproofing on these boots is top-notch, as is the grippy outsole, which is great for scrambling moderate terrain. The boots are also extremely stiff and supportive (they take awhile to break in), though they remain much more lightweight than other boots of this caliber. The downside here is that these boots are not breathable at all. My feet often become extremely hot and sweaty when hiking in these in warm weather. As a result, I’d say the Acrux TR Gore-Tex boots are a stellar choice for backpacking trips if in wet conditions, during winter, or at high-altitude. However, for moderate summer hike, they simply aren’t breathable enough. The laces also have frayed over time, but I’ve replaced those with some La Sportiva laces and those are working well.
Asolo Corax GV Boots
Best Hiking Boots for Long-Distance Backpacking
Asolo is a brand most American readers probably aren’t familiar with, but they’re known for making top-quality backpacking boots worldwide. When I lived in New Zealand, Asolo boots were the go-to for backpackers and mountaineers across the country. Asolo has called the Corax “the most advanced hiking product in the market,” and it shows in the build.
The Corax GV sports multi-piece heels designed to absorb shock, Gore-Tex waterproof lining and techy Vibram outsoles. This is a bombproof boot that will stand the test of time, great for long miles hauling heavy loads over rough terrain. That said, Asolo has never been the most affordable brand, and at $360, these boots will certainly cost you a pretty penny.
Ecco Exohike Boots
Best Hiking Boots for Overnight Trips
The Exohike is a stable, above-the-ankle shoe with a lot more breathability than the burlier boots on our listing (like the Acrux TR and the Corax GV above). Michelin rubber outsoles provide lightweight traction, while energy-returning Ecco Phorene midsoles keep you moving fast. ECCO’s proprietary Hydromax water repellant does a solid job staving off external moisture.
In addition, this is a fairly eco-friendly boot, since Ecco constructed the Exohike with leathers using DriTan technology — which minimizes the water and chemicals used in the tanning process.
Vasque Breeze LT Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
Most Breathable Backpacking Boots
The Breeze LT Gore-Tex is a unique offering, in that it has both top-notch breathability and solid waterproofing. The synthetic microfiber and abrasion-resistant mesh upper will keep your feet cool on hot summer hikes, while the Gore-Tex waterproofing still does a solid job keeping feet dry.
Like many of the boots on our list, the Breeze is eco-friendly in some capacity, with Nature-tex 50% recycled content waterproof membranes and 70% post-consumer recycled mesh uppers. The Enduralast EVA midsoles are comfy, but not as stout as some of the backpacking boots above. This is a great mid-range hybrid boot for overnight or weekend camping trips or support on long day hikes.
La Sportiva Nucleo High II Gore-Tex Wide Boots
Best Hiking Boots for Wide Feet
Finding a comfortable fit when you have wide feet can be a pain. Luckily, La Sportiva has made a specialized modification to one of their trademark trekking boots to accommodate wide feet (the brand is known for always making skinny shoes). The La Sportiva Nucleo High II Gore-Tex Wide is the best backpacking boot for wide feet, featuring a classy Nubuck leather-look, Gore-Tex waterproofing and a Vibram Nano XS-Trek sole that offers impact braking and solid traction on techier turf. This boot also won the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award, which is no small feat.
La Sportiva Glacier WLF Boots
Best Hiking Boots for Forest Management Professionals
For working professionals in the wilderness, particularly those involved in forest management and post-fire cleanup, heat-resistant footwear is critical. The Glacier WLF from La Sportiva features a heat-resistant sole with a sturdy rubber compound. This compound is resistant to 300 degrees Celsius (or 572 degrees Fahrenheit) and the accompanying glue is resistant to 70 Celsius (or 158 degrees Fahrenheit).
La Sportiva notes that this heat-activated glue, however, will delaminate when exposed to fire or heat. The boots also meet the eight-inch height requirement for wildland firefighting (though naturally, this isn’t a completely fire-resistant boot). If you’ve accepted a job in forest management or are looking for a sturdy, heat-resistant boot for post-fire work, the Glacier WLF is a surefire choice.
Hoka Kaha Gore-Tex Boots
Most Comfortable Hiking Boots
As my buddy stated, “These boots make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud.” I agreed with him. The Hoka Kaha Gore-Tex is easily the most comfortable hiking boot I’ve ever slipped my foot into. The high collar provides a decent amount of stability when backpacking, but the shoes are breathable enough for day hikes in warm weather, too.
The Kaha is also extremely lightweight for a boot of its build, clocking in at only 17.92 ounces. The Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with 5 millimeter lugs performs fairly well on mixed terrain, but there are better options if you’re looking at technical scrambling (see the Trango Tech Gore-Tex below). That said, if comfort is your focus, these are the best boots on the market, bar none.
La Sportiva Trango Tech Gore-Tex Boots
Best Technical Hiking/Mountaineering Hybrid Boots
If you’re looking for something you can take into technical alpine terrain but that will perform decently on trail, the Trango Tech Gore-Tex is a good pick. The stiff sole naturally works well with crampons, and the rubber is tacky enough for moderate scrambling and low-grade rock. The Trango Tech Gore-Tex is fairly lightweight (weighing under 3 pounds), but is supportive when packing heavy loads. These boots also feature perhaps the best waterproofing out of any on our listing. As with other La Sportiva boots, beware if you’re wide-footed. Most of the brand’s standard boots run quite thin.
All told, Trango Tech Gore-Tex is a shoe that’s designed for the everyman mountaineer and scrambler. You’re getting a bit of an approach shoe, a bit of a hiking boot, and a bit of a mountaineering boot all in one piece of footwear. From moderate rock and snow to low-grade ice and burly terrain, this boot can tackle anything.
Keen Targhee III Mid Boots
Best Budget Hiking Boots
Keen boots and shoes have been widely loved by backpackers and day hikers alike, thanks to their high performance features and budget pricing. (The Keen brand has also been growing like crazy this year.) The Targhee III Mid continues that lineage as a versatile mid-level hybrid at an excellent price point. Stability isn’t the focus here, so if you’ll be embarking on a longer distance overnight trip, you may want to steer clear. That said, the Targhee III offers top-notch breathability and comfort, with more support than below-the-ankle hiking shoes like the Moab Speed from Merrell and the Aerios FL from Arc’teryx — while keeping its price point comparable.
Hoka Speedgoat Mid 2 Boots
Best Lightweight Trekking Boots
Like the Hoka Kahas, these Hokas earn top marks for comfort, with a slightly less burly build than the Kahas. It’s essentially impossible to find a mid-level boot with this much comfort and priced so reasonably at $170.
If your biggest priority is weight, then these boots are also a solid buy. They’re some of the lightest hiking boots on the market, weighing just 13.2 ounces.
Although marketed as a mid-level hybrid, these boots could come closer to a hiking shoe. They’re the ultimate option for fast, lightweight missions, but don’t offer much in the way of structure and support. If you’re carrying a heavy pack, these likely aren’t your best option.
Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boots
Most Stable Mid Boots
If you like the lower cut of a mid boot or hybrid hiking shoe, but can’t normally hang with the lack of support found in shoes like the Keen Targhee III Mid, then the Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid is an excellent alternative. With a tall ankle cuff, a burly midsole underfoot and durable external leather, the Renegade hits all the marks of a classic hiking boot. It’s on the heavier side, for sure, but if you’re looking for a stout boot that will hold up for years and weight isn’t a concern, the Lowa is a solid choice.
Vasque St. Elias FG Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
The full-grain leather St. Elias FG Gore-Tex is a rugged, beefy workhorse. Its sole is among the most bulletproof of those seen on our list, and its upper is simply the epitome of stout leather. If you’re looking for a boot that can support you while carrying extra heavy packs over rugged terrain, you can’t go wrong with the St. Elias. The old-school look just adds to the appeal.
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots
The Mountain 600 from Danner comes in a variety of styles and prices, but the standard 4.5-inch Brown/Red iteration is a great example of this boot. In short, you’re getting a lightweight, technical hiking boot with the timeless, old-school Danner look. When I tried these shoes out, I was impressed by the Vibram Fuga outsole, which features self-adapting lugs that grip well on all terrains, whether muddy or rocky. The waterproofing is quite solid here, too, particularly considering the price.
Salomon X Crest Hiking Shoes
With moderate cushion and a polyurethane-coated, leather-reinforced upper, the X Crest is another nice hiking shoe that excels in scrambles. The protective toe and heel keep your feet secure on rocky terrain, and the Gore-Tex membrane keeps these puppies waterproof. All told, the X Crest is a great alternative to some of the hiking shoes listed above and has perhaps the best waterproofing out of any of them.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid Gore-Tex Boots
Like the Acrux TR and the Asolos featured above, this Salewa mid boot is a nice cross between an approach shoe and a mountaineering boot. It will perform extremely well on alpine hikes and scrambles (I’ve tried this boot myself), but it tends to be quite warm, like the Acrux. That said, I’ve owned Salewas for years, and their durability is always next to none. My father has been hiking in the same Salewas for over seven years now.
This boot sports a durable rand that wraps around the entire lower section, keeping out rocks, snow and any other debris. Like that on approach shoes, the lacing system extends down to the toes of the boot for an extremely variably fit. For a rough, rugged alpine boot that can offer a fine-tuned fit, this is a great competitor to the Arc’teryx Acrux TR.
La Sportiva Pyramid Gore-Tex Boots
The most affordable La Sportiva boot on our list, the Pyramid is also much less technical than the other La Sportiva boots we selected. However, it’s better suited to trail hiking and moderate backpacking trips. With breathable Gore-Tex built into the upper and a classy Nubuck leather build, this is a boot that keeps your feet cool on warm days and looks good, too. It’s a top-notch choice for backpackers looking for a mid-weight boot or day hikers looking for something slightly more supportive than the hiking shoes in our roundup.