Best Hiking Boots Reviewed and Rated
If you’re a casual hiker, and finding that your treks into the wilderness are starting to get serious, well then it’s time to invest in a solid pair of hiking boots. Here’s why: a wide soled pair of jogging shoes are perfectly fine for those half-day hikes along a well-groomed trail.
But, if you’re going farther than that, or if you start to head out to more challenging routes you’re going to need the extra support, the extra shock absorption, and in the worst cases the extra warmth that a hiking boot is going to give you. And when we say invest we mean it a great pair won’t come cheap, but we’ve done our best to give you a wide range of solid boots that are going to keep you walking in the woods for years.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
100 Percent Leather and Synthetic
10 Best Hiking Boots
1. Vasque Men's Talus
100 Percent Leather and Synthetic
Vasque has been known to wrong size deliveries
This is a solid hiking boot. We particularly like the raised toe which will help keep you on your feet no matter how rough or rocky the terrain gets. The Vibram outsole will also help keep you walking and help keep you dry, which is this shoe’s calling card. It says it is completely waterproof, and it is but don’t go surfing with them.
Thick Cushioned Collar
The injuries that you’re going to get while hiking are almost always going to occur in the lower part of your leg, a sprained ankle from uneven terrain is the one that almost always gets us. We can’t fix the terrain but we can make sure you’re ankle has the support it needs to remain stable.
Everyone reads about this but not many people know why it’s so important. Basically it’s the material between the upper and the outsole. This is the place where you need to maximize cushioning and rebound. This will protect you from Plantar Fascitis and all kinds of other frustration injuries that come from the beating your feet take out in the world.
Cost and Value
Not bad. These shoes are about in the midrange when it comes to price. These are just simple workhorse hiking boots and they will serve you well if you’re looking for a show that will really let you get out into the world.
2. Timberland White Ledge
All sizes are accurate for fitting
Dual-density footbed is removable
The first Timberland model to make the list is the White Ledge, a popular choice among many hiking boot enthusiasts. Besides the usual great rugged look and feel from a Timberland brand, it sports a unique styling that separates it from the pack.
There are three available styles for this product, and all of them are unique in appearance. The White Ledge is available in Dark Brown, Wheat, Gaucho, and Brown.
Having support around your ankle while hiking is key to preventing injuries. But if you are like me, anything covering your ankle is just plain annoying. I need a little more room to move. Which is why I prefer the support of a boot that sits at my ankle. It gives me a more natural range of movement.
Cost And Value
Like all Timberland boots, this model clocks in at the high price range. For all sizes, it matches the price structure and quality of similar Timberland products.
3. KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid WP
Great trio of available colors
Contoured heel lock
Style runs a ½ size small
Keen may end up being a surprise brand on this list for some users that were expecting some of the bigger names. Their Targhee II Mid WP comes in strong at the #3 spot and may have started a trend or two in the industry.
Breathable Leather Lining
Comfort is important with hiking boots, but so is durability. Keen finds the correct balance between the two for the ultimate experience when walking or climbing over rough areas.
With the upper portion of these being waterproof you can avoid having wet socks and feet at the end of the day. The waterproofing technology keeps your feet dry at all times.
Cost And Value
Buyers will pay a high premium price, and it is worth every penny. This is the boot that can be depended on even when the trip is rough.
4. Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus
Waterproof with leather uppers
Breathable mesh materials
Only two available colors
Columbia’s only hiking boot on the list makes an appearance, almost cracking the top three. The company did a great job of marketing this towards users that valued toughness in their accessories
Great Middle Tier Solution
There are a lot of choices on the list that excel in specific areas, yet the Newton Ridge Plus li is known for having few weaknesses. It’s the perfect boot to get a taste of all of the best features of high end hiking boots in one.
For those with problems having both sweaty and stinky feet, breathability should be at the top of your list of qualities. After all, it is the reason air flows through the design of the boot. With these you get plenty of breathabilities, pair that with a great pair of socks for sweaty feet and you get perfection.
Cost And Value
For being one of the top shoes on the list, the price is really fair for what’s offered. The primary features alone make it a valuable addition to any customer’s accessory lineup.
5. Merrell Men's Moab 2 Mid
One of the better waterproof boots on the list
Comfortable to wear when going over uneven surfaces
Sizing can be a bit off for larger feet
The first Merrell product to make it on the list comes in at a respectable #5. It’s also another one of their mid-size boots that becomes an attention grabber, even among higher-profile choices.
Some people expect hiking boots to be waterproof out of the box, but that simply isn’t true. Merrell takes boot toughness a step further by fully waterproofing their product, making it an incredible buy for any user.
Tripping over logs, tree roots, and larger rocks all day can cause some aches and pains for your toes. Which is why these have a rubber cap over the toe box. Adding an extra layer of protection to your feet.
Cost And Value
This is the most expensive Merrell brand in their lineup, and for good reason. With the materials it’s made out of, the boot is expected to last the longest of their products, thus enhancing its value.
6. Lowa Men's Renegade
High Shaft for Ankle Support
Toe Cap Comes Loose Easily
One of the big reasons to consider these boots is the 5-inch shaft distance from the heel to the top of the shoe. The extra ankle support might just save your hike, and in a worst-case scenario save your life. We’ve pointed out before just how important ankle support is and these shoes have it in spades.
5-inch Shaft Height
It’s a bit jargony but what it means is that this is a boot that’s going to fit high up on your ankle. Now that’s not for everybody but for anyone who has bad ankles or just feels like they need a bit more support on their hike the high shaft height is going to be your best friend.
It’s getting to the point where if you don’t have Vibram outsole it’s not quite clear if you can trust the boot. This isn’t true of course but Vibram really does have quite the corner on the outsole market but for a good reason. These outsoles are sturdy, made well and are going to be a big part of the waterproof element of your boot.
Cost and Value
The cost for these can be all over the map but if you get them direct you will be able to get a reasonably affordable pair. It’s true that when it comes to hiking boots you’re going to have to shell out some dough, but that’s what list is for to help you find a reasonable costing pair of boots that you can count on.
7. Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent
One of the toughest boots available
Lacks styling of other brands
Merrell makes the list again, and it won’t be their last appearance. The style isn’t something that is the strong suit of Merrell, as they take a very traditional approach to their boots. But what they lack in flair they make up for in usefulness, sometimes to an incredible degree.
Built Like A Brick
These boots are reinforced well and will last for years without needing to be replaced. They were built from the ground up to take punishment and it shows in the details.
The design of the tongue helps keep dirt and debris from gaining entry into your boot. This is perfect for those pesky little rocks that have you stopping to empty your footwear time after time.
Cost And Value
The price is high, and it doesn’t seem to be too affected by the size the customer is getting. For the amount of damage these boots can take, they are worth it, even when competing with Timberlands.
8. Timberland Men's Chocorua
Comfortable but tough
Best warranty in the business
Can be expensive
You can’t have a boot list without listing more than ones one of the best in the business, Timberland. They have been making top quality boots for years, so it’s no surprise to see them on the list.
Best Warranty In The Business
The one thing you can count on with Timberland boots is for them to last longer than the competition. From top to bottom they guarantee their product, and that leads to consistently high ratings from customers.
These are a heavy-duty sole option for those who may have sensitive bottom portions of their feet. Even better for those who travel over tough terrain, as your feet won't feel every bump along the way.
Cost And Value
Depending on the size, the model can go from the midrange to the high priced category pretty quick. Because of the value of the Timberland products, this is an excusable expense for top quality.
9. Scarpa Men's Zodiac
100% Suede outers
Rubber Rand for Safety
SockFit Construction Reduces Bulk
Sole Material is thin
A great take on the traditional hiking book Scarpa is a great brand and it just looks cool. Instead of the go-to browns and Khakis, you actually have a little color thrown in on these shoes. It may not be traditional but we think it looks great and fresh.
100 Percent Suede
Brushed suede outers add an even cooler element to these shoes. This, of course, will require a bit of care to keep the suede looking good but we think it’s worth the trouble.
The GoreTex treatment will ensure that your feet stay dry. The GoreTex will also help keep the suede on your shoe looking good. Suede outers and waterproof, we like that combination and Scarpa is doing a lot to make a really unique shoe.
Cost and Value
The base price is a bit more than most of the others on our list but we think Scarpa is making a really good shoe and if you have a bit of extra cash this shoe will not let you down.
10. Sketchers USA Men's Verdict
Low price for a high-quality model
Wide fit by default
Not as durable as some of the upper-tier hiking boots
A Sketchers product is always a great product and this particular model has a lot of fans. The feel is genuine, the quality is superb, and for the price, it is a steal.
Just because boots are low priced it doesn’t automatically mean that their quality is suspect. No matter the size, this is one of the better deals in the industry for a high-quality hiking boot.
For those with wider feet, this brand suits you the best. Often manufacturers tend to stick to the narrow style upper. But Sketchers is known for catering to those who need a wider fit to accommodate their perfect fit.
Cost And Value
For such a low price it’s hard to go wrong with Sketchers as a choice. Even with average durability, the value will grow if the customer takes care of the boots.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Durability was up first, and it was something that really stood out when we started removing brands from the list. Durability was really important for this list to be accurate, so in one single category, there were a lot of top brands removed from the list. And even with the brands that remained, some of their other less notable models didn’t make the cut.
We judge durability based on the average life of the boot, and how well it holds up in rough environments. The boots that made the cut were given a higher than average rating for being able to withstand the tough conditions on a normal hitchhiking trip. This included time spent past the break-in period, which could average from a week to a month. Overall, it was a very important criterion for us to focus on.
When it came to judging the warranty and customer service practices of the brands on the list, none of them came close to Timberland or Sketchers. For the rest, we only kept brands that had a generous return policy for sizing issues and defects.
With the price of a lot of the hiking boots being medium to high, having a customer-friendly return policy goes a long way in ensuring both sides are happy. And if your boots fall apart less than a month after you buy them, there should be little reason to deny proper customer service.
The last two things we looked at were waterproofing and comfort. Waterproofing was judged based on three levels; competent, good and great. We adjusted the list accordingly, which was really hard to do since waterproof boots vary in their resistance methods.
While some relied on both outer and inner materials to restrict moisture, other brands were just natural repellants to the unwanted moisture. It was very interesting to see how each company handled its touted waterproofing feature, and it is safe to say that only a few companies perfected it. Timberland was one of them, and Merrell was another.
Comfort was the hardest thing to judge but became easier after we looked at built-in comfort features. Since comfort is based largely on getting the correct size and breaking in the boot, we rated comfort in several ways. Brands were rated on their size availability, average break-in time, mesh and other premium comfort features and weight.
All of these built an overall comfort rating for each remaining hiking boot on the list, which led to us reordering all ten based on their comfort levels. This was the main reason Salomon gained top honors and basically blew all the other hiking boots out of the water.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
What does breaking them in mean? It means wearing them all the time for a while and wearing them with the socks and insoles that you'll be hiking in. The shoe has to conform to your unique way of walking and that leather has to soften up, just like a baseball glove so wear that sucker out until you're well past blister or rubbing stage. And then head out on the trail.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why Are Hiking Boots Priced Higher Than Normal Boots?
Hiking boots have a different set of functions for the wearer. Normal boots can’t even withstand half of the punishment that these models have to go through. And by default, hiking boots protect your feet against the dangers of sharp objects. People that spend a lot of time outdoors use them, even if they don’t hike.
The ruggedness of the boot pays for itself over time by protecting your feet, and also by being able to withstand some of the roughest treatment of any modern-day accessory. Your hiking boots are meant to last a long time, even with rougher than average treatment.
q: Are All The Models Waterproof?
No, and even models that report they are a waterproof need to be checked for accuracy. The best test for how good the waterproof feature is for any pair of hiking boots is real-world testing. Multiple trips testing the feature will let you know whether it is true waterproofing or just a simple repellent feature.
The latter could lead to a shorter lifespan with the boot, possibly forcing you to call in the warranty sooner than expected. In a worst-case scenario, it could leave you stranded on heavy terrain with worn boots. Always test just how ‘waterproof’ a boot is after purchase and make sure it lives up to expectations.
q: How Do You Clean Hiking Boots?
The soap and water cleaning does the job just right for any hiking boot. They are mostly made of the same materials and don’t really need to be maintained outside of breaking them in and the occasional wash-for aesthetic purposes. It isn’t uncommon to see a user put on a pair of hiking boots covered in the mud without bothering to clean it first.
They are the ultimate accessory for hiking, and at any point in time, they are called on to protect the feet and provide all-day comfort. So even if they aren’t cleaned for a good month, the boots are still serving the primary purpose that they were intended for.
q: Why Is Timberland Considered A Top Brand?
Since 1952, Timberlands has worked hard to charm both casual and professional boot wearers. It is one of the most recognizable boots in the world and is just as popular for fashion as it is for work. In 1985 they surpassed the 1 million mark with boots sold, marking a very important moment in the company’s history.
When celebrities started endorsing Timberlands, they took off with the everyday customer, although they were already a hit work hard labor workers. A true moment that made the company a top brand happened in 1973, which is when they made their first waterproof boots. This changed the industry forever, and it was all due to innovation-led by Timberland.
q: How Accurate Are The Sizes?
Some companies have good sizing charts, some have great sizing charts, and then others are so far off the mark that it frustrates their customer base. It is very important to get the right size hiking boot, or you’ll end up ruining the overall experience.
Wearing the wrong size can also lead to slips, falls, cramps and other undesirable foot problems. Sometimes boots aren’t as simple as the chart suggests, requiring a little bit more investigating to get it just right. The biggest problem is judging the extra-wide sizes, which can be confusing for buyers that are used to regular wide. Double wide may be needed to give your feet the breathing room it needs to be comfortable.
q: Is It A Good Idea To Wear Uncomfortable Boots?
Buyers that don’t want to deal with the headache of returning hiking boots that are the wrong size may try to deal with the pain. This is not recommended and can lead to severe foot problems. There is also a sense of balance that can never be fully attained in hiking boots that are the wrong size.
Your body will react to wearing uncomfortable shoes, especially ones that are too small for your feet. Most warranties cover a problem like the wrong size, so if it is something that you often deal with, make sure to read the specifics of the warranty and see if it would apply. No one should have to deal with hiking boots that are the wrong size.
q: What Does It Mean To Break In A Boot?
Breaking in a boot is the process needed to make the boot more comfortable to wear. Over a short period of time, wearing it like normal will make it contour to your feet for a more natural fit. Boots are truly better with time, and this is the main reason it is uncomfortable to wear other people’s boots. This is also the reason why it is a bad idea to try to break in the wrong size boots since it is pretty much a guaranteed blister on top of the other problems. The simple process of breaking in your hiking boots is a must before cleaning it for the first time.
q: Are Hiking Boots Comfortable?
Comfort is dependent on several factors and varies wildly since hiking boot manufacturers have different standards. The first thing to look at is the brand/model, and what the overwhelming majority of its wearers say. Consumers that make a lot of noise about a boot being uncomfortable should keep you away from a particular product. The second thing to look for is comfort features like mesh or removable insoles. As a third test for comfort, individuals should see how the boot feels after the break-in period. If the hiking boot is still uncomfortable after the break-in period, then comfort was never its strong suit.
q: Which Companies Provide The Best Warranties?
Timberland first and foremost, with Sketchers following closely behind. Timberland has a generous return policy that covers two months, which is more than enough time even past the break-in period. Their warranties are so simple to deal with that they have earned a really cool reputation among their customer base.
Sketchers doesn't have as robust return policy, but they do have excellent customer service. Their warranty program is also customer friendly, which in turn leads to a better experience overall if something should go wrong. There are other brands in the industry that deserve praise, but Timberland and Sketchers are in a class of their own.
q: Can You Wear Any Type Of Sock With The Boots?
Wearing inappropriate socks is one of the major reasons customers return hiking boots for uncomfortable tendencies. There is an entire guide just based on appropriate socks for hikers to wear, and when you add in the element of a boot, it really gets interesting. For the cliff notes version, synthetic socks that match the thickness of what you’re wearing should cover most of the comfort issues that people face while wearing boots. It is a small change to make, but one that could completely change the hiking boot experience. Whenever in doubt, always check to see what is recommended for your current outfit.
q: When should I replace my old pair of hiking boots?
As a rule, hiking boots should be replaced about every 500 to 600 miles. This timeframe can be extended a little when proper care is taken. Another way to extend this timeframe is alternating between more than one pair of boots. When switching between hiking boots, the insoles are able to dry out completely. The midsole gets relieved as well during this time. If you wear your hiking boots regularly, they may begin to be less firm and less stable sooner.
q: Which style of boot is better, one with no ankle support or one with ankles support?
Depending on the terrain of your hike, there are advantages and disadvantage for both types of boot. Ankle support hiking boots are excellent if hiking off the path or through thick bush. Ankle support helps when walking on uneven terrain and protects the ankle from plants that may cause scrapes or cuts and sharp thorns. However, if hiking on flat ground or on the path, a boot without ankle support might be preferred as it provides more mobility and you do not need protection from dangerous plants or bush.
q: What style of hiking boot is right for me?
There are numerous styles of hiking boots and determining which one is right for you often depends on the style of hiking you do most (not to mention a personal preference for comfort and color). Are you a hiker that stays on the path in a state park? Then perhaps a low-rise boot with a flexible rubber sole may be best for you.
Or are you one that enjoys going off the path to explore? If so, a mid-rise boot that provides a little more ankle support may be suitable for your needs. Last but not least, if your hiking style includes journeying into rivers, over rocks, or making your way through rugged and dense terrain, you want a hiking boot that provides outstanding protection from the elements with strong dependability.