Best Hiking Boots of 2022

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Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down. The trend is toward lighter materials that nevertheless provide enough support, and waterproof boots are by far the most popular (some are offered in a non-waterproof version for hiking in hot or dry climates).

The finest hiking boots of 2022 are divided into three categories: lightweight boots for day hiking and fastpacking, midweight alternatives for most backpacking treks, and heavyweights for hard terrain or transporting a big load. See the comparison table and purchasing tips below the choices for additional details. If you want to travel even lighter and quicker, see our guide to the finest hiking shoes.

Our Team’s Hiking Boot Picks

  • Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX: Best Overall Hiking Boot
  • Best Budget Hiking Boot: Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP
  • Salomon Quest 4 GTX: Best Rough Terrain Backpacking Boot
  • Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX: Best Max-Cushioned Hiking Boot

Best Overall Hiking Boot

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX ($165)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s quick, light, adaptable, and fairly priced.
  • What we don’t like: They’re thinner underfoot and less stable than the Salomon Quest 4.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid is our favorite all-around hiking boot for 2022, designed like a trail running shoe but with enhanced ankle support and protection. Updated last spring with a sleeker upper and revised chassis, the latest version of the boot offers an impressive combination of comfort and low weight—all while retaining solid toe protection, stability, and well-rounded traction.

You also get Salomon build quality, which we’ve found tends to stand up to more abuse on the trail than other boots in this weight and price range. The X Ultra 4 Mid is ideal for fast-paced day hikers, lightweight backpackers, and even thru-hikers.

Naturally, the X Ultra’s lightweight build comes with a few trade-offs. The most significant is the lack of underfoot protection, which is thinner than the burly Salomon Quest 4 and max-cushioned Hoka Anacapa below.

In addition, the X Ultra is fairly flexible and doesn’t sit as high on the ankle as the Quest, so it isn’t as supportive over technical terrain or when carrying a heavy pack. However, in terms of durability, protection, and support, it outperforms other lighter choices like as the Altra Lone Peak. Finally, the X Ultra is one of the few lightweight designs available in a variety of sizes.

Best Budget Hiking Boot

Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP ($145)

  • Category: Light/midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 4 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)
  • What we like: Great price, fit, and comfort.
  • What we don’t like: It’s not as sturdy on difficult paths or with big loads.

The Merrell Moab 2 is our best value selection for day hikers and lightweight backpackers who usually stick to well-maintained routes. This boot’s popularity stems from its lightweight and comfy feel at such a low price. For $145, you get good cushioning underfoot, trusty Vibram outsoles, and a waterproof membrane (an upgraded Gore-Tex model is available for $165).

The Moab was upgraded to the “2” a few years ago, but they didn’t make too many changes to the tried-and-true design. Notable changes included a new insole with a higher arch, improved cushioning under the heel, and a more waterproof and durable suede upper.

What are the Moab 2 Mid WP’s drawbacks? The boot is lacking in support compared to some of the pricier models on this list for carrying a heavy load or scrambling on rocky or rough trails. Second, it isn’t as tough or long-lasting as some of the more expensive versions on our list. The Moab is a well-built hiking boot overall, but the lack of premium materials means that it may eventually need to be replaced a little sooner than we would prefer.

However, at a big discount from the other top boots on our list, the Moab provides the ideal blend of comfort and performance for many day hikes and weekend activities. Note: Merrell released the updated “3” this spring (featuring a bit more support underfoot, a grippier midsole, and more recycled materials), but the discounted 2 is still widely available at the time of writing.

Best Backpacking Boot for Rough Terrain

Salomon Quest 4 GTX ($230)

  • Category: Mid/heavyweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 14.2 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s tough, protective, and supporting while being comfortable.
  • What we don’t like: It’s too hefty and bulky for most day hikes.

If you’re in the market for a tough boot for serious day hiking and backpacking, Salomon’s Quest 4 GTX is the whole package. The fourth version of the series has a terrific performance fit, an aggressive stance, and one of our favorite lacing systems—the eyelets at the base of the ankle do a fantastic job of securing your heel in place.

In addition, the latest model (released in 2021) has a modernized yet very durable upper, and the cushioning and protection underfoot impressed us on rocky trails, when hauling a heavy load, and on high-mileage days. Taken as a whole, the Quest is a big boot that shines in the wilderness.

Despite trimming off about an ounce per boot from the previous version (comparing men’s size 9 models that we tested), the Quest 4 still sits solidly in our midweight category. It’s great for strenuous treks and backpacking adventures that include steep climbs and descents as well as off-trail exploration while carrying a heavy pack.

But the boot is a bit overbuilt for people that don’t need the extra protection or want to move fast and light on well-maintained trails. Those individuals might be better served by a lighter and more agile boot, such as Salomon’s own X Ultra 4 Mid GTX above.

Best Max-Cushioned Hiking Boot

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX ($185)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 0 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: The shoes are quite comfortable, have a terrific lacing mechanism and fit, and have a smooth ride.
  • What we don’t like: Some outsole durability concerns and contentious design elements.

Oh well, hiking boots are becoming more appealing. Hoka, a popular racing shoe manufacturer renowned for its lightweight and cushioning designs, has made a significant push into the hiking footwear industry. Our favorite from their lineup is the Anacapa Mid, which features Hoka’s well-known springy midsole, a rockered shape for a smooth ride on the trail, and a beefed-up construction that includes durable nubuck leather and a Gore-Tex waterproof liner.

During a hiking trip in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, we were impressed with the Anacapa’s fast-paced demeanor, which neatly combines a trail runner-like feel with ample of protection and a highly secure over-the-ankle lacing mechanism.

The Anacapa’s principal priority is durability, especially the lifetime of its outsole. The majority of the tread is quality Vibram rubber, but Hoka incorporated large sections of blown rubber in the middle of the design. Blown rubber is often used in road running footwear and has a foam-like sensation. As a result, our pair has already received pretty significant damage from rocky trail use.

To be fair, we put the boots through a strenuous ridgeline scramble, but the outsole remains a design flaw. All told, if you stick mostly to established trails and prioritize cushy comfort and a nimble feel, the Anacapa is well worth a try

Best of the Rest

Asolo Falcon GV ($250)

  • Category: Light/midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 2.6 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s well-made, really comfy, and durable.
  • What we don’t like: They’re expensive and not as supportive as other of the heavier boots on our list.

The first thing that springs to mind when we think of Asolo is a traditional, leather hiking boot like their TPS 520 GV Evo. The sleeker and more modern Falcon GV, however, represents where hiking footwear clearly is headed: a little less weight and support than a traditional hiking boot, but with serious technical chops.

We took the Falcon on and off trail over the course of a rugged trek in Patagonia and came away impressed. It’s well-made, quite comfy straight out of the box, and can withstand almost any challenge you can throw at it.

The main disadvantage of picking the Asolo Falcon GV is its modest steadiness. The Falcon isn’t for you if you’re accustomed to a high-cut boot with a lot of support. But when laced up tight, we wore it backpacking with a relatively heavy load over all types of terrain from scree fields and glaciers to steep rocky passes with few issues.

We enjoy the Falcon for individuals who don’t require the most stability and prefer a lightweight and comfortable all-around boot for anything from day hiking to heavy camping.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid ($245)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 7 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s light and comfy, and it provides ample support for most travelers.
  • What we don’t: Not the toughest construction.

The Lowa Renegade offers the appearance and feel of a typical hiking boot while being very light. Unlike the more aggressive and contemporary Quest, the leather Renegade provides more ground isolation and feels more rooted and solid. It does give up a little of the fun factor and performance fit of the Quest, but the trade-off is worth it for those carrying a heavy pack or wanting more underfoot protection from rocky trails.

Lowa reduced weight by delegating certain stabilizing functions to a very efficient external polyurethane frame. The Renegade performs like a proper hiking boot while weighing less than 2.5 pounds as a result. Furthermore, the leather upper is rather thin, saving ounces and reducing break-in time.

All of this lightness comes at the expense of long-term durability—high-mileage users have reported requiring a new pair almost every year. But they keep coming back because the feel is so good and the weight and support are just ideal. And since the Renegade is available in narrow, standard, and wide widths, finding a good fit is simple.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX ($199)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 1.2 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: Excellent stability and durability in a lightweight, trail runner-inspired style.
  • What we don’t know is that shallow lugs are prone to slipping in mud.

La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor trail runner has earned legendary status amongst the mountain running community, beloved for its high levels of protection, durability, and stability alongside a lightweight, trail-runner-esque build. The Mid GTX merely elevates the style by adding an over-the-ankle collar and a waterproof covering.

The end result is a shoe that falls halfway between a mid-height trail runner and a hiking boot, combining the finest qualities of both worlds. For fast-and-light mountain-goers, the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a nimble and quick alternative to boots like the Quest 4 above and Zodiac Plus below.

On the other hand, it’s useful to compare this boot to the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid, which is shown below. Checking in just a few ounces heavier, the Ultra Raptor offers noticeably more protection around the foot with a generous toe cap and TPU heel, and the rigid shank goes a long way to improve stability. Furthermore, the FriXion XF 2.0 sole is firm and intended to grip rock effectively (unfortunately traction falls short in mud).

The Altra will deliver a more cushioned and lively ride on well-worn trails, and its spacious toe box will provide respite on long days. But if you’re looking for a similarly lightweight boot for tackling more technical terrain, the Ultra Raptor Mid GTX is a standout choice

KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid ($175)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 2.8 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (KEEN.Dry)
  • What we like: A low-cost choice with a durable leather upper.
  • What we don’t: Not very secure on rough trails.

With great out-of-the-box comfort, the KEEN Targhee line is an extremely popular boot for day hiking and easy to moderate backpacking trips. The Targhee III has been on the market for a while—it was introduced in the autumn of 2017—but it still provides good value.

The boot has a surprisingly tough build with a good-sized toe cap and leather upper, moderately wide fit, and a collar height that sits just high enough on the ankle to provide decent rollover protection. Keep in mind that the Targhee III is still a significant step down in stability and ankle support from a boot like the Lowa Renegade, but it provides enough stability and traction for most subalpine trips.

The Targhee’s major rival is the Merrell Moab 2, which has been a best-seller for years. The Targhee is more durable overall with its leather construction, but the Moab matches it in trail comfort, keeps you cooler with its mesh design, and costs $30 less (note: KEEN recently upped the price of the Targhee from $165 to $175). The price differential gives the Moab the advantage on our list, but the Targhee is still a good option, especially for people with broad feet.

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX ($299)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 6.4 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s light yet stiff enough for difficult terrain trekking.
  • What we don’t like: Expensive and overkill for well-maintained or moderate terrain.

Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus proved ideal for a hike over Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash. This boot combines approach shoe-like grip on rock and boulders with the durability and stability of a lightweight mountaineering boot. Over a brutal 10 days of on and off-trail hiking while shouldering a heavy pack, the Zodiac impressed: The semi-stiff build, high-quality construction, and solid protection provided a lot of confidence on steep climbs and sketchy descents.

The Zodiac Plus and Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 Mid GTX (the heavier equivalent to the Mountain Trainer Lite detailed below) are two of the greatest durable and serious hiking boots. The Zodiac is more comfortable out of the box, weighs around 4 ounces less for the pair, and is a bit more flexible for covering ground quickly, but the Mountain Trainer’s stiffer build and 360-degree rubber rand offers even better protection in the alpine. Depending on your requirements, both are mountain-ready waterproof designs that should suffice.

Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid ($180)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (eVent)
  • What we like: The extra ankle support and comfort of a trail running shoe.
  • What we don’t have: insufficient support, durability, and protection.

The mid-height hiking boot version of Altra’s Lone Peak trail running shoes has a strong following among thru-hikers, making the mid-height hiking boot version an interesting proposition. Combining the ankle height of a boot with the Lone Peak’s trademark wide toe box, generous cushioning, and zero-drop design, the result is instant comfort (we experienced no break-in period) alongside extra support on tricky terrain or when carrying a load.

Further, at 1 pound 14 ounces, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is the lightest boot here—a game changer for high-mileage days—and includes an eVent waterproof membrane for shallow creek crossings and muddy sections of trail. We’ll admit that we were initially skeptical about the hiking-boot-meets-trail-runner design, but we found the Altra to be a surprisingly capable piece and a great lightweight option for those who stick to the trail.

However, as a more serious backcountry boot, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR has a few drawbacks. For us, the design showed its weakness during a climb of a 14er in Colorado—even with just a light pack, the boot felt sloppy and hard to trust, and toe protection fell far short. In addition, the synthetic upper material is quite thin and more prone to tears and premature wear than the traditional leather and thicker synthetic options above.

But if your backcountry endeavors keep you on trail, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is a sizable step up from a trail runner in terms of support, and the comfort-first design is known to work well for those who suffer from blisters and unhappy feet. Keep in mind that the sizing differs from ordinary Lone Peak: the boot has a little narrower feel and a superb locked-down fit at the midfoot.

Oboz Bridger Mid WP ($190)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 6 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (B-Dry)
  • What we like: Sturdy and supportive for the price; includes a high-quality insole.
  • What we don’t like: The path seems sluggish and heavy.

Oboz, based in Bozeman, Montana, is known for producing rugged, comfortable footwear. Our favorite over-the-ankle design from their lineup is the Bridger Mid, which in many ways is a beefed-up version of the KEEN Targhee III above. It’s well-cushioned and protective underfoot, with TPU reinforcements and a nylon shank, but it lacks the lightness and flexibility of many current alternatives.

The upside is that the boot is stable and supportive—the leather upper can withstand a lot of abuse, and the midsole reinforcements give the boot a planted feel. The Bridger Mid Waterproof is a comfortable option for anything from weekend hiking excursions to winter snowshoeing.

What isn’t to enjoy about the Oboz Bridger? The boot seems slower and heavier on the trail than rivals like the Merrell Moab 2 Mid and KEEN Targhee III Mid. Furthermore, the B-Dry waterproof fabric developed in-house keeps the boot toasty even in mild temperatures.

For a cheaper option from Oboz, the Sawtooth is another mid-height boot that has more mesh in the build, but it’s less tough and supportive at a similar weight (although you do save $25 in the process). Both the Bridger and Sawtooth are available in non-waterproof variants for individuals trekking in hot and dry climates.

Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 ($160)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz.
  • Waterproof: No (available)
  • What we like: The lightweight and agile fit prioritizes comfort.
  • What we don’t have: A rock plate and a Vibram Megagrip sole are only available in the waterproof version.

Topo Athletic, founded by the former CEO of Vibram, knows a thing or two about staying on the trail—literally. With the exception of the Trailventure here, the majority of their portfolio is focused to running shoes. The Trailventure, which is half trail runner and part hiking boot, is a good option for hikers who seek a lightweight, well-cushioned ride with some ankle support.

Furthermore, Topo’s shoes are noted for their comfortable fit: This design in particular features a roomy toe box (great for foot swelling), locked-in midfoot and heel, moderate heel-to-toe drop (5mm), and unique lace lock system that allows you to customize snugness in the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle.

The first-generation Trailventure fell short in terms of durability and features, but the 2 improves on that with an extra lace loop at the ankle for a snugger fit, an external heel counter for added structure and gaiter attachment, and a 3-millimeter-higher stack height for more protection and comfort.

Topo also offers the Trailventure 2 in a waterproof version ($180), which has a rock plate underfoot and a stickier Vibram Megagrip sole for more stability and protection. Whether you opt for the waterproof or non-waterproof Trailventure, Topo’s trail runner-inspired hiking boot is a comfortable and thoughtfully designed option for moving quickly with a relatively light load.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX ($229)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 1.6 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Surround)
  • What we like: It’s lightweight, robust, and comfy.
  • What we don’t have: It’s a little too narrow (although wide sizes are available).

La Sportiva’s Nucleo High II GTX is a quintessential modern boot: light and nimble but with enough support for day hiking and most backpacking trips. The Gore-Tex Surround lining and Nano-Cell technology are its most noticeable features.

In brief, unlike typical waterproof designs, Gore-Tex Surround breathes not only through the top of the foot, but also through the bottom of the footbed and out the sides. The web-like mesh on the sides of the foot is La Sportiva’s Nano-Cell technology. While these cutouts provide the boot a unique appearance, they seem to have just a little influence on ventilation.

The Nucleo genuinely distinguishes itself from other 2-pound variants in terms of durability: For climbing and trekking over rugged terrain, the footwear contains huge expanses of leather rather than mesh. You get moderate flexibility from its mid-height design, so it doesn’t require an extensive break-in, and traction is excellent over rock and mud.

All told, the Nucleo a nice upgrade in performance and build quality from a boot like the Merrell Moab 2 above, albeit at a higher price. Keep in mind that this boot has a little narrow fit, but the good news is that both men’s and women’s wide sizes are available.

Scarpa Rush Mid GTX ($199)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s very light while being sturdy and protective on tough terrain.
  • What we don’t: Expensive and strange sizing.

Scarpa is no stranger to mountain footwear, but their new Rush collection takes it to a whole new level. The Rush Mid GTX enters the ranks of contemporary, technically smart boots like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Mid above, with a focus on lightweight performance. The Scarpa appears to be a mid-height trail runner, but don’t be fooled—a it’s supportive and protective boot capable of handling tricky trails and off-camber terrain (much more so than a design like the Hoka or Altra above), thanks to a burly midsole with TPU reinforcements and a sticky rubber outsole. Add in a rockered shape for rapid movements and the lightest weight available, and the Rush Mid GTX is a well-balanced newcomer worth a look.

The Rush Mid GTX, like the Ultra Raptor above, is an excellent alternative for mountaineers wishing to minimize their footwear. We’ve tested the low-top version back-to-back with the Salomon Ultra 4 GTX, and found it to be overall stiffer and more cushioned, resulting in more support without a drop in comfort.

This is a winning formula both for easy trail and technical terrain (friends of Switchback used this boot as their approach shoe for a season in Patagonia), although it will cost you $24 to $34 more than the aforementioned competition. And keep in mind that sizing is a bit tricky—the toe box is noticeably narrow (especially compared to designs like the Altra above and Topo Athletic below), and many users report needing to size up.

Danner Mountain 600 Mid WP ($210)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 5 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Danner Dry)
  • What we like: Classic Danner styling in a light package.
  • What we don’t like: It’s not as sturdy or long-lasting as the pricing suggests.

Danner is primarily renowned for their full-leather boots, but its Mountain 600 has struck a chord with day hikers. The over-the-ankle style is light at 2 pounds 5 ounces for the pair, surprisingly flexible underfoot, and stylish with a complete suede top and superb lacing hardware.

The combination of an in-house waterproof lining and water-resistant suede protects your feet from dirt and damp grass while also delivering a small increase in warmth for wearing about town in the cold (to the detriment of breathability).

The Mountain 600 is not meant for high-mileage users, as predicted given its casual attitude. The materials aren’t recognized for being long-lasting, especially when subjected to rough terrain. Furthermore, at $210, the boot is somewhat pricey when compared to more competent, lighter-weight designs like the $165 Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid above. But if you prioritize out-of-the-box comfort, styling, and everyday versatility, the Mountain 600 is worth a look.

Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX ($220)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 7.9 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s light and comfortable for such a competent, alpine-ready boot.
  • What we don’t like: Makes certain sacrifices in terms of protection and coverage; big stack height takes some getting accustomed to.

Salewa is well known in the mountaineering world for their technical alpine boots, but not everyone needs an exceptionally stiff and burly design. The Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX takes their iconic Mountain Trainer 2 Mid and slims it down for a lighter, more streamlined ride.

Importantly, the Lite retains most of the mountain-readiness we love about the standard version while appealing to a broader range of recreational hikers: it’s highly comfortable out of the box with a well-cushioned build and soft materials throughout, offers a good mix of flexibility and stability, and provides surprisingly good arch support.

A well-executed lacing system that successfully locks down the ankle and rear of the foot, a climbing-inspired POMOCA outsole, and decent support and durability for crossing challenging terrain with a heavy load are the final highlights—all at a very affordable 2 pounds 7.9 ounces.

The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX, like other weight-conscious designs, makes certain sacrifices to keep things light. The biggest is protection: While the approach shoe-like rubber toe cap provides decent coverage at the front of the foot, it’s noticeably thinner and less comprehensive than the standard model’s 360-degree design.

Medial foot protection (around the inside of the ankle) is also pretty minimal, which led to some rock strikes on steeper and more aggressive inclines, and the lower collar can allow water, snow, and debris to creep in over top. Another disadvantage is the high stack height (40mm at the heel and 25mm at the forefoot), which takes some getting used to but offers excellent isolation from rough terrain.

Finally, the Mountain Trainer Lite is a niche alternative with a high price tag, but it strikes a decent balance between lightweight, trail runner-inspired designs and more aggressive alpine boots like the Zodiac Plus above.

REI Co-op Flash ($150)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 2 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (HydroWall)
  • What we like: A distinct and fashionable alternative for day trekking.
  • What we don’t: Middling comfort and traction.

REI entered the hiking footwear market in 2021 with a brand-new line of over-the-ankle boots. The Traverse is their midweight offering (of note: This model is currently unavailable), while the Flash featured here is a light and modern-looking design.

The knit top, which is suggestive of a running shoe and gives the boot its distinct style and flexible, sock-like inner, stands out instantly. Tack on chunky lugs underfoot, a fairly stiff midsole, and a strip of TPU surrounding the base, and the Flash hits a nice balance of protection and cushioning for day hikes and short overnighters.

At $150, the Flash boot, like virtually other REI items, undercuts the majority of the market (most competitors are $20-$40 more expensive). And they’ve done a good job of adding environmentally friendly elements like recycled polyester and plastic, as well as a bio-based component in the insole. Where the boot falls short is in terms of comfort: we noticed severe pressure areas around the insides of our ankles that never completely faded.

The problem is a combination of thin cushioning around the collar and tongue, as well as a pair of metal eyelets that dig in when the laces are tightened. This may not be an issue for everyone—although looking through user reviews, it does appear to be somewhat common—but it’s a notable enough complaint for us to drop the Flash in our rankings

Oboz Sypes Mid ($165)

  • Category: Lightweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 1.2 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (B-Dry)
  • What we like: A stylish and comfy hiking footwear for on-trail usage.
  • What we don’t have: performing chops

Oboz has a few long-time hiking boot favorites, such as the Bridger, but with the Sypes, the brand has made a turn toward being hipper and more contemporary. With this boot, you get a comfortable leather upper, Oboz’s proprietary B-Dry waterproof membrane, decent support and stability, and a fairly aggressive lug pattern for traction. \ With a mid-height build, the Sypes is not the most performance-oriented boot on this list but is a nice option for on-trail hikes and light backpacking trips. Last but not least, it’s a stylish boot that we like for daily use.

Keep in mind that the Oboz Sypes Mid is not the ideal choice for substantial cushioning for extended trail days or protection for off-track scrambling. The shoe is comfortable but feels flatter and less burly than some of the more technical models on the market, so if you plan on covering serious mileage over challenging terrain, the ruggedness is limited.

That said, the boot is reasonably light at just over 2 pounds, supportive enough for those who want to step up from a hiking shoe, and Oboz has taken some nice steps in using environmentally friendly materials in the build.

Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX ($250)

  • Category: Midweight
  • Weight: 2 lb. 6.8 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: Tough and capable yet lightweight.
  • What we don’t: We’d prefer more cushioning.

A couple years ago, Arc’teryx released the Acrux TR GTX technical hiking boot, which took the place of the discontinued Bora in their footwear lineup. In contrast to the Bora, the Acrux follows a more traditional route: It has a standard one-piece upper, EVA midsole, and Vibram traction. But, being Arc’teryx, there are some pleasant surprises.

We’ve found the SuperFabric top material to be exceptionally durable and strong, despite its thin construction. That pretty much sums up our overall opinion of the Acrux: Despite weighing less than 2.5 pounds for the pair, the boot has provided excellent support and protection while hauling 50+ pounds (due to heavy camera equipment) over challenging terrain.

The Acrux’s overall lack of padding is one of its shortcomings. The thin upper is partly to blame, but underfoot, the stock OrthoLite insole is simply too thin and flat to be comfortable over full days of hiking. Replacing the insole (which is detachable) is a nice start, but the padding seems to be a design flaw.

Furthermore, the collar dips quite low around the rear, allowing more debris to enter than we’re accustomed to with a mid-height boot. These complaints push the Acrux down our rankings, but there’s still plenty to appreciate with this burly yet light backpacking boot

Zamberlan Vioz GTX ($350)

  • Category: Heavyweight
  • Weight: 3 lb. 2.4 oz.
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • What we like: It’s well-made and performs well on tough terrain.
  • What we don’t: Dated design that’s very heavy.

Traditional heavyweight leather styles have been migrating away from the hiking boot market for years, but there is still a time and place for these classics. The Zamberlan Vioz GTX is one of the all-time greats in this category: The Italian-made leather construction is gorgeous and built to last, the interior is soft and isolates you amazingly well from a rough trail, and the stiff structure provides reliable support. For long slogs with a serious load or even light mountaineering, the Vioz GTX is a proven choice.

Unfortunately for the Vioz, there is good reason why you see fewer of them on the trail these days. A big boot makes it more difficult to cover terrain, and the Vioz weights more than anything else on our list at 3 pounds 2.4 ounces (and certainly feels like it as the miles add up).

In the end, we think even serious backpackers will be better off with a boot like the Salomon Quest 4 above in most cases. The Vioz, on the other hand, remains a favorite among traditionalists looking for a genuinely bomber boot that will be your trekking buddy for years (you can even resole its Vibram rubber).

Hiking Boot Comparison Table

Hiking Boot Buying Advice

  • Hiking Boot Categories
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  • Stiffness and Stability
  • Waterproofing
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  • Midsole Types
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  • Toe Protection
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  • Hiking Boots vs. Hiking Shoes

Hiking Boot Categories


Lightweight boots are, unsurprisingly, light and flexible, yet durable enough for a longer day trek or a short overnight camping trip. The more classic KEEN Targhee III is one option, as is the light and speedy Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid. Waterproof liners are common, however they are usually the least priced option.

The materials utilized in construction are increasingly mesh and nylon with leather mixed throughout. This keeps cost and weight down, but doesn’t make them as durable as some pricier full-leather options. You also won’t see as stiff of a structure, as the boot’s shank and support won’t be very substantial. That shouldn’t be a problem as long as you’re not carrying a large pack.

Merrell’s Moab 2 is a popular lightweight option

The growing popularity of trail running shoes for hiking and backpacking has given rise to a new variant in the lightweight category of over-the-ankle trail runners. The fundamental idea is to raise the collar and lacing mechanism of a popular running shoe, such as Hoka’s Speedgoat or Altra’s Lone Peak, a few inches. This offers a little increase in protection and support over a low-top trail runner while still maintaining the lightweight, comfortable, and speedy feel of that footwear category.

As we’ve found, however, there are a number of compromises, including durability, toe and foot protection from the thin materials, and support in technical terrain or when carrying a heavy load. But those that like to move fast and light and even mix in some running during their adventures may find that the pros of a nimble boot like Altra’s Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid outweigh the cons.

The Topo Athletic Trailventure prioritizes weight reduction and comfort.


Midweight boots are expert compromisers, providing enough support to bear a large load without making you feel like someone shoved lead in your socks. It’s a rapidly growing category, reflecting demand from backpackers and serious day hikers for a light but capable option. It’s also the location of some of our favorite footwear (the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX and Lowa Renegade are both midweight).

The solid support underfoot stiffens the boots somewhat more than day hikers, but not overly so. Prices in this category often begin at $200 because to the high grade of materials and building processes. At that pricing range, the waterproof bootie’s quality increases, and you’ll generally see GTX (Gore-Tex) in the label.

Backpacking in Peru with the midweight Scarpa Zodiac Plus


The heavyweight category produced boot legends that were stiff, robust, and very dependable. Classic models like the Zamberlan Vioz GTX remain popular for those wanting a full-leather design, but the shift towards lighter weights in boot construction has expanded the category to include models like the Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 Mid GTX (the heavier and more aggressive counterpart to the Mountain Trainer Lite included above).

Heavyweight boots are often designed for difficult, uneven trails and lengthy slogs with hefty trekking loads. While the thick upper materials and Gore-Tex make for excellent performance in the wet and snow, they will run warm in hot conditions (some prefer a non-waterproof leather boot instead).

Their solid structure also takes some of the strain out of long ascents by keeping the heel from dropping at each step, and makes them often friendly with strap-on crampons for light mountaineering. Finally, don’t buy one of these boots and go straight to the trailhead for a lengthy hike. Spend the time to break them in, and you’ll have a hiking companion for years to come.

Heavyweight boots provide optimum support and protection on difficult terrain.


A brief glance at our comparison table above reveals that hiking footwear weights vary greatly. You can choose an over-the-ankle design anywhere from over 3 pounds to under 2 in the case of the trail runner-inspired Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid (1 lb. 14 oz.) and Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX (1 lb. 14 oz.). What’s also clear is how different weights affect a boot’s performance.

To start, while the correlation isn’t perfect, a lighter boot generally will offer less protection, support and stability, and durability over the long term. This might be an issue if you’re carrying a big pack and traversing harsh terrain, but for thru-hikers or minimalists, going light can be a terrific option.

In Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, we put the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid to the test.

Whenever we can, we try and keep the weight of our boots to a minimum, providing enough comfort and support for the weight of our pack and the conditions, but without having to lug around anything extra. Depending on the journey, this may mean anything from a lightweight trail runner for fastpacking to a robust boot like the Salewa MTN Trainer 2 Mid GTX for trekking across Nepal. If you just want one boot to do it all, the Salomon Quest 4 GTX performs an excellent job of combining weight and performance.

The Salomon Quest 4 GTX has an excellent weight-to-performance ratio.

Stiffness and Stability

A hiking boot is normally built to be sturdy, which includes a shank, which is a piece of hard plastic put between the midsole and outsole. Depending on the intended purpose, the length of the plastic might range from just beneath the arch to the whole length of the boot. A stiff boot has the advantage of not allowing the heel to drop during a climb, which helps prevent calf strain.

This is why the stiffness of a boot will increase along with its technical abilities, culminating in extremely unyielding mountaineering boots that can better handle long summit pushes. Some lightweight boots, on the other hand, lack this added structure and instead resemble a tall, flexible hiking shoe.

Using the Salomon Quest 4 boots to cross a creek in Nepal

For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain or if you’re aiming to move fast and light, we can’t recommend a lightweight and flexible hiking boot enough. Shoes like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid and the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid are excellent choices for these applications. As your journeys get longer and heavier, a more sturdy boot with more ankle support is a preferable choice.

A terrific all-around alternative that is equally good at high peaks and multi-day hiking is the Lowa Renegade or Salomon Quest 4. On the extreme end, heavyweight boots like the Salewa MTN Trainer 2 Mid GTX are excellent for hiking in areas that require maximum support: off-trail bushwhacking, traversing an exposed area, or trekking over rough ground.

Hiking over scree in the Arc’teryx Acrux TR boots


The vast majority of hiking boots are waterproof, and the security from a surprise deluge on a backpacking trip is reason enough for most folks to choose a GTX (Gore-Tex) model. Most designs have a waterproof and breathable bootie put into the outside fabric to make these boots waterproof.

Gore-Tex liners are the most popular and have brand cachet, although in-house technology like as KEEN’s KEEN are also available. Dry are equivalent in terms of waterproofing performance (the only difference is breathability and minor variation across types). A water-repellent coating is also applied to the boot to assist bead up and shed water droplets.

The Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is waterproofed with eVent.

Although most hiking footwear are waterproof, does that imply they should be? It’s nice to have waterproofing so your feet don’t get wet walking through mud or crossing a stream, but all the waterproofing does on a spring or summer backpacking trip in Canyonlands is make your feet hot and sweaty (we cover breathability in greater detail below).

And an argument can be made that your feet will eventually get soaked no matter the waterproof design in truly wet and miserable conditions. As an alternative, some backpackers turn to non-waterproof shoes with gaiters over the top for weather protection. While this will not prevent water from entering the boots from the sides, it will help them dry considerably faster. And the gaiters prevent water, snow, or trail debris from entering the boot via the top.

Waterproofing is preferable for most people, especially those who go hiking in hilly areas where water on the path or a downpour are always a possibility. The designs aren’t ideal, but a good waterproof liner will keep you dry in all but the worst conditions. If you trek during the shoulder seasons, the additional layer will keep you warm.

But hikers in uniquely hot and dry places like Arizona and Utah may be best served with a non-waterproof model, no matter how few options there are on the market. A few that we like are the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator (a sibling of the Moab Mid WP on this list) and “Aero” variations of Salomon’s X Ultra 4. See our page on waterproof hiking footwear for more information.

Boots with Gore-Tex lining have consistently performed well.


Regardless of what marketers claim, making a footwear waterproof has an intrinsic influence on ventilation. By keeping water from entering from the outside, less moisture (your sweat) can quickly and easily escape from the inside, which means all forms of waterproof footwear can run warm in the summer months. However, there are significant variances in the capacity of different boot types to ventilate.

We’ve found that heavyweight leather boots with a Gore-Tex lining are often the worst performers, while the Gore-Tex Surround in the mesh-heavy La Sportiva Nucleo High II is a step above. In the middle, the Lowa Renegade and Salomon Quest 4 both function well thanks to their nylon and leather construction and Gore-Tex lining, and are ideal for summer camping excursions.

In our tests, the cheaper membrane in the Oboz Bridger Mid boot fell short of the more expensive choices. Alternatively, if you are willing and able to ditch the waterproof lining altogether, the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid and Salomon X Ultra 4 Aero mentioned above are great options for hikers and backpackers.

Because of its leather construction and in-house waterproof layer, Oboz’s Bridger runs heated.

Lacing Systems

Laced hiking boots are an underrated characteristic that plays a vital role in fit and comfort. If a shoe’s lacing mechanism is prone to loosening, you’ll find yourself continuously readjusting on the trail or suffering with hot areas and blisters. If the problem is just the laces, there is a simple solution: there are numerous high-quality new laces available (and can usually be found at a local outdoors shop).

However, if the system does not retain your foot or fit properly, we suggest that you explore elsewhere. As a result, we are cautious to suggest Salomon and Adidas’ single-pull speed lace designs. Although handy, it is more difficult to tailor fit, which may cause pain over long distances especially when carrying a big load.

Lacing systems should progress as you update to more aggressive designs. Notable boot enhancements include locking hooks around the ankle bend, such as those seen on the Quest or Renegade boots. These hooks maintain the laces in place incredibly effectively, increasing comfort and performance on the course.

The lacing system plays a big role in comfort

Hiking Boot “Upper” Materials

The material used in a shoe’s upper, which is the fabric that links to the rubber outsole, is directly related to its durability, water resistance, and breathability. A boot or shoe is often comprised of a combination of synthetic (primarily nylon), mesh, and leather. There are several exceptions, notably with one-piece leather structures at the top end. The benefits and downsides of the most prevalent hiking footwear materials are listed below.

Synthetic Nylon and Mesh

To improve ventilation, woven nylon and open mesh nylon panels are prevalent on entry and mid-level footwear. They’re not as well known for their durability but do a great job of cutting weight. Furthermore, the cloth absorbs moisture more quickly than a leather boot. Exceptions include the Salomon Quest 4, which is made of tightly woven nylon panels that have comparable levels of durability to some Nubuck leathers despite a lot of exterior stitching.

In Patagonia, we put La Sportiva’s synthetic Ultra Raptor II to the test.

Nubuck and Suede Leather

Made of full grain leather, but given a brushed finish that has a suede-like feel, Nubuck leather is a common site on mid-range boots. Although the softer touch leather is lighter and more flexible than classic, glossy full-leather choices, the thinner structure isn’t as long-lasting.

It is, however, more durable than most nylon mesh inserts, and as a result, it’s common to find a mix of Nubuck leather and mesh, with the leather bits giving the boots a little extra toughness. Furthermore, due to its brushed texture, Nubuck leather breathes better than full-grain leather and is less prone to exhibiting scuffmarks.

The Nubuck leather upper of the Lowa Renegade is both sturdy and lightweight.

Full-Grain Leather

This upper is most often seen on rugged, heavyweight boots. One-piece leather uppers may be seen on high-end boots such as the Zamberlan Vioz GTX, Asolo TPS 520 (not included above), and Danner’s boot series. These patterns are not as light or airy as others, but they are very robust and water resistant.

They do require some maintenance to keep the leather in good shape, but they’ll reward those cleaning efforts with a construction that is built to outlast everything else on the market. As an extra plus, certain boots, such as the Danner Mountain Light, may be re-soled, eliminating the need to replace the whole boot once the lugs wear out.

Midsole Types

While wearing hiking boots, it’s common to carry a decent amount of weight, which puts a lot of stress on your feet. Combined with the rubber outsole, the midsole plays the essential role of shock absorber from impacts and provides an additional layer of protection from sharp rocks. Midsoles may range from relatively thin (as in a fastpacking boot) to stiff and robust (depending on the design) (full leather hiking boot). Most are made from EVA foam, PU, or a mix of the two.

The midsole of Hoka’s Anacapa Mid is inspired by running shoes.


The midsole of the majority of light and midweight hiking boots is made of EVA foam. The cushy, soft material takes some of the sting out of your heel or midfoot impacts and is also extremely lightweight. Not all EVA should be handled the same way, and patented varieties might range from very soft to somewhat stiff.

We choose a strong and stable midsole over excessive cushioning when recording substantial kilometers on rougher terrain. Those extremely soft midsoles, like a running shoe, have a propensity to break down over time. In general, a better midsole design and a higher-quality EVA compound cost more.

The REI Flash has a soft EVA midsole, making it ideal for less difficult day hiking.


For tougher applications or when it’s a priority to isolate your feet from rough impacts, manufactures will use a PU or polyurethane midsole. This tough foam is less comfortable than EVA-only midsoles, but it will last longer and carry larger loads better.

Furthermore, they will retain their form for a longer period of time and will not collapse as easily as EVA. Boots like the Asolo TPS 520 Evo use a polyurethane insole, but the material’s popularity is expanding to mid-range options—despite the extra cost—with the Scarpa Zodiac Plus being a recent example.

The Scarpa Zodiac Plus has a combination EVA and PU midsole.

Outsoles and Traction

The primary reason for changing from a flimsy cross trainer to a proper hiking boot or shoe is usually for greater grip. When the terrain becomes rough, slippery, and steep, hiking footwear outperforms more casual gear by leaps and bounds. And much in the same way that Gore-Tex dominates the market for mid to high-end waterproofing, Vibram inhabits a similar space for outsoles. Not all Vibram models should be treated as equals, however, as the rubber manufacturer tailors their designs for the specific footwear and brand.

Some have significantly bigger lugs for excellent mud grip, while others favor sticky rubber for climbing over rocks. There are also more entry-level choices that perform well on simpler terrain, such as the lugs on the sole of the Merrell Moab boots and shoes. The lesson is that it’s worth looking at the lug depth and compound type description to see where a given outsole would perform best.

The Vibram tread of the Lowa Renegade boots has pleased us.

Salomon is one company that does not outsource its traction requirements. For all of their boot and shoe styles, they instead employ their in-house Contagrip brand. They have years of experience in everything from trail running to hiking, so they aren’t lacking in knowledge. The level of quality and performance is in-line with the Vibram offerings across the board, from anything from their fast-and-light X Ultra Mid hiking boots to the burly Salomon Quest 4 backpacking boots.

Salomon’s tried-and-true Contagrip rubber is used on the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX.

Toe Protection

Toe caps or rubber rands cover the front of many hiking boots and are an important part of backpacking boot construction. These thick rubber parts are designed to hold your toes together if you accidentally—or, in our case, eventually—kick a boulder on the route. The Scarpa Zodiac, which offers protection that wraps entirely around the front of the foot, is a standout from our selection above.

To cut weight, some manufacturers will occasionally take away or diminish this feature, including the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid boots. Speaking from experience, we’d prefer that Altra included a more substantial one after catching and bruising a toe on a rock hiking in Washington’s Enchantments. Toe protection is one area that may suffer if you go lightweight.

The Mountain Trainer Lite from Salewa offers enough toe protection but falls short of heavier models.


Getting a good fit may be a real chore, and a generic, flat insole is often to fault. Thankfully, removing your stock insoles is super easy, and replacing them with an aftermarket model that’s specific to your foot size and shape can remedy most shoe maladies.

New insoles can provide more or less volume to fill out the shoe, improve the fit under the arch, and increase or decrease the cushion and impact shock. We suggest Superfeet insoles because of their extensive assortment and established reputation in running shoes, ski boots, and hiking gear.

Hiking Boots vs. Hiking Shoes

One of the most important considerations in hiking footwear is whether to wear an over-the-ankle boot or a low-top shoe. Each design has advantages and disadvantages, and we use them interchangeably on hiking and backpacking excursions. Hiking shoe types differ just as much as the boots mentioned above, so you may go from stiff and supportive to light and agile.

Targhee III by KEEN is available in both mid-height boot and low-top shoe styles.

Finally, the key differences between boots and shoes are protection, stability, and weight. A boot is our favorite choice for uneven terrain, river crossings, snow, and carrying a hefty camping load. But the low-top style trims away material and weight, making it the clear choice for those focused on moving fast and light without a large pack (especially in milder weather conditions and when traveling over less technical terrain).

There isn’t a definite right answer in this debate, but the weight of your gear and the conditions you’ll be hiking in can make the decision a lot simpler. Many serious outdoor enthusiasts believe that having at least a pair of each in their quiver is essential.

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