Best Shoes for Hiking


When it comes to hiking, the shoes we put on our feet make all the difference. Not every shoe is made equal and knowing which ones are the safest and most comfortable can make or break your experience with hiking.

Shoes for hiking come in many shapes and sizes. To choose the best hiking shoes you will want to consider things like weight, support, and the quality of the materials used. Hiking shoes should have a thick sole and be made out of a good breathable material.

Hiking can be a rewarding thing to do. If you love the outdoors and the fresh air, then there is nothing quite like hiking up a trail. On top of that, you are getting exercise while doing what you love.

The mental relief that hiking provides can also be one of the benefits besides the exercise. If you’re anything like me, being in nature puts me in my happy place.

When hiking one of the most important things we should consider is our gear. This begins with the type of shoes or hiking boots that you choose.

Hiking means you’re going to be on your feet for many hours. Having the best shoes for hiking can keep your feet healthy and make the experience more comfortable.

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What Kind of Shoes to Wear for Hiking

There are a lot of shoes out there that could potentially make excellent hiking shoes or boots. Let’s take a closer look at what’s out there.

  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Trail runners
  • Running shoes
  • Waterproof shoes

These shoes have pros and cons and will deliver different results for hiking. Knowing what kind of hiking you are doing is an important first step.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes come in a few different design types. There are low-cut hiking shoes as well as full-size hiking shoes. Shoes that are designed with hiking in mind are durable and comfortable.

Your hiking shoes should be made of quality materials. The soles should be cushioned and made of thick quality rubber. Having a rubber or plastic toe can help when you’re climbing rocks and going through rugged trials.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are for those who are not just hiking through trails but may also be going up rocks and terrain that will be more challenging. They are made of thicker materials such as quality leather and thicker rubber.

You are going to need a hiking boot that will have a good tread that will grab ahold of the rocks and allow you to climb and keep your footing.

Trail Runners

Trail runners are a more lightweight shoe than boots, but still a little more durable than running shoes. You will need to consider your type of hiking. Will you be rock climbing or going off-trail? If so you may need hiking boots.

However, if you are mostly hiking on trails and also doing some running then this shoe is a more versatile choice for you. Trail runners combine the lightweight design with high-quality materials that make it possible for you to keep up with hiking conditions and trail running.

Running Shoes

Running shoes can work for light hiking. If you are hiking on trails that are cut-in style trails with a dirt track then running shoes might be your best option. They are great for running on the trails and are made comfortable enough to hold up to some hiking conditions.

Most running shoes are shock absorbant with soles that grip well to dirt and other terrains.

Waterproof Shoes

You might be considering hiking through different types of landscapes. If you may be hiking through areas with water, rivers, swamplands, then you may consider a waterproof hiking shoe or boot.

A lot of hiking shoes are made from waterproof material that makes crossing a low water stream possible without getting your feet completely wet.

In most cases, these types of shoes also have a sole that grips well to wet surfaces which can be an important feature when crossing water.

What Kind of Hiking are you Doing?

Now that you know what kind of shoes are available for hiking, you should think about what kind of hiking you will be doing. Once you can identify your style of hiking and how much hiking you will be doing each year, you will know exactly what shoes will work best for you.

If you are planning on hiking multiple types of terrain, many times per year, then you will want to invest in a good pair of hiking boots.

You may be planning on doing a lot of hiking but not a lot of rough hiking. Then you may want to consider trail runners or a quality pair of running shoes.

shoes-for-hiking-and-water

Best Shoes for Hiking

We have put together a comprehensive list of the best hiking shoes so you can find out which ones fit your hiking needs. These shoes range from hiking shoes to hiking boots and trail runners. We even threw in a set of running shoes that we feel are the perfect hiking shoes for light hiking and trails.

List of best hiking shoes:

  1. Keen Targhee II
  2. La Sportiva Spire GTX
  3. Dragontail GTX
  4. Altra Lone Peak 4.5
  5. Saucony Peregrine 10
  6. Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX
  7. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
  8. New Balance Nitrel v3

This mix of the best footwear for hiking will have something for everyone let’s take a look at some of the details of each as well as their pros and cons.

Keen Targhee II

The Keen Targhee ll are a pair of hiking boots that are lightweight with a lot of traction on the soles. These are comfortable hiking boots that are an affordable price. They have the look of a boot but the lightweight design makes it feel more like a shoe.

With this boot, you will be able to traverse most terrains, trails, rocks, and everything in-between. The versatile design has a strong toe and thick sole that makes them comfortable and durable.

They lace up nicely and fit tightly while still providing enough room and comfort to move around.

These boots are waterproof with thick leather, however, they still breathe nice and allow for airflow.

My favorite part about these is that they are a boot that looks like a shoe. With all the traction of a good boot but the versatility of a hiking shoe. The low-cut design makes them easy to put on and take-off.

Pros:
✅ Affordable price and great design.
Cons:
⛔ Not as durable as some high-quality hiking boots.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

La Sportiva Spire GTX

The La Sportiva Spire GTX are hiking shoes that have the look and feel of running shoes, but the durability you need to hike up rocks and more. The lightweight design makes this a great hiking shoe for long hikes. This shoe has great traction, making it perfect for pretty much any type of hiking.

You can run in these, hike in them, walk long distances in comfort. You’re gonna love this design if you are looking for a high-quality hiking shoe that is versatile enough to hike and run in.

The thick sole makes running or hiking over hard surfaces and sharp rocks a breeze. They have nice cushion and thick materials.

The Gore-Tex material is breathable and comfortable around the foot. This inside liner combined with the outer material help the foot to dry out faster and stay more comfortable.

The rubber on these is thick and protects your feet from hard surfaces, while being lightweight enough to maneuver most positions and postures.

They are water-resistant and can withstand most situations where you will have to move through water.

Pros:
✅ These shoes are versatile and high-quality.
Cons:
⛔ Expensive shoes but well worth the investment.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

Dragontail MNT GTX

The Dragontail MNT GTX shoes are a low-cut hiking shoe that has the durability and feel of a high-quality boot. These shoes have a thick hard sole that can make climbing over rocks smooth and quick. The traction on these is better than most other hiking shoes.

The outsides are made from thick leather and hard rubber, making them sturdy and strong. While these shoes are a little heavier than some hiking shoes they are still comfortable and easy on the feet.

These shoes are made for rough trails and hard terrain. If you are looking for a high-quality shoe that holds up to rock climbing and hard trails then you may want to consider the Dragontail MNT GTX.

They get good traction due to the thick pattern on the soles. You will be able to walk through mud, rocks, and even snow in these shoes.

Pros:
✅ Heavy-duty hiking shoes.
Cons:
⛔ Need to be broken for comfort adjustment.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

Altra Lone Peak 4.5

The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 is a shoe that has been a favorite trail running shoe for many years. The design is lightweight and allows you to move across trails quickly and effortlessly. They have a some what stiff sole that makes them durable.

These have thick rubber on the toe area and a grid sole that makes gripping the ground easy. They get great traction and are very sturdy. The main material is breathable and high-quality, along with thick leather that wraps around them.

These shoes are heavier than most hiking shoes, this can make them a little less comfortable than others but the design allows you better traction and the ability to hike different landscapes.

Pros:
✅ A good trail running shoe.
Cons:
⛔ Not as comfortable as other shoes.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

Saucony Peregrine 10

The Saucony Peregrine 10 is a sleek looking hiking shoe that is lightweight and super comfortable. They are low to the ground with lots of cushions and a solid sole that lets you climb over multiple terrains. These shoes also make great running shoes. They have a Gore-Tex liner that makes them breathable and dry out quickly.

The traction these shoes get is second to none, you will be able to dance over rocks and climb up just about anything.

These aren’t the lightest hiking shoes but they still have a lightweight quality to them that makes them comfortable and easy to wear.

This shoe has had many upgrades and has only improved over time. The prices have remained affordable despite the upgrades and we recommend this shoe for anyone who wants a great hiking shoe that delivers.

Pros:
✅ Great design and flexibility.
Cons:
⛔ Not as light as other shoes.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

The Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX is a hiking boot that is built like a running shoe. Even though this boot has a high-top design, the rest of the shoe functions more like a trail runner. The design is durable with thick plastic that is shock absorbent and flexible.

These boots weigh considerably less than some of the other hiking boots on the market. However, it still gets great traction and performs nicely when climbing rocks and rough terrain.

If you are looking for a hiking boot that is comfortable and lightweight then you may want to consider these Vasque Breeze boots. They offer great support to your feet, with cushions and a tight lace-up.

The thick soles make it easy to walk over rocks and rough trails, and the comfortable design makes it easy to walk on long hikes.

Pros:
✅ Lightweight hiking boots.
Cons:
⛔ Not as comfortable as hiking shoes.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a heavy-duty hiking boot that is made of quality materials and performs nicely on hard to traverse terrains. Despite their heavyweight, these shoes are very comfortable. The high-top design offers ankle protection and the boot is built-to-last.

They are durable and offer great support for carrying heavy backpacks and holding up to rough trails.

These boots lace up much like other boots and work boots, which helps keep them stay tight and sturdy.

The bottom of the sole has a very good traction and allows you to climb rocks and pretty much anything else. You will love the Low Renegade GTX Mids if you plan on going off-trail and into more rough territory.

Pros:
✅ Heavy-duty hiking boots.
Cons:
⛔ They weigh a little more than other boots but are comfortable.

Compare prices on Amazon here.

New Balance Nitrel v3 -Running shoe

New Balance has been making running shoes for decades. The New Balance Nitrel v3 running shoes are a great shoe for hiking and running on trails that are not too rough. While they are not hiking shoes specifically they still have thick soles and a lot of cushion which allows them to be used for hiking.

These are the best shoe to use if you plan on doing a lot of running with your hiking, as long as the trail is a cut-in trail that has dirt or gravel you will do just fine in these running shoes.

If you are going to be doing a lot of hiking you may want to find a more durable shoe but for someone who is doing a light amount of hiking these should hold up well.

Pros:
✅ Lightweight and easy to run with.
Cons:
⛔ Not the best for anyone planning to go hiking often.

Are Running Shoes Good Enough for Hiking?

If your style of hiking consists of mostly running on trails with dirt or gravel then running shoes may be good enough for your hike. Running shoes are made with shock absorbant soles and quality materials.

For light hiking up pre-made trails running shoes are probably all you will need to stay comfortable and get enough traction.

shoe-for-hiking-in-snow

Best Shoes for Hiking Through Water

A lot of hiking shoes come in both waterproof and regular materials. Research the pair you like and find out if they come already waterproof or if they have the same model in waterproof material.

The more research you do the better prepared you will be. Most hiking shoes have soles that grip and have good traction, so they should work well with wet surfaces.

Best Shoes for Hiking Long Distance

This depends on the kind of terrain you will be hiking. If your long-distance hike includes rocks and rugged landscape you may consider a hiking boot. However, if you’re going to be doing mostly light hiking for a long distance, a trail runner or running shoe will be easier on your feet.

Both hiking boots and shoes have a great cushion, shock absorption, and thick soles, however, for long-distance, a lighter shoe or boot would probably better suit your needs.

Related Questions

Can running shoes go through water? Running shoes are not waterproof, they are made primarily for running on dry surfaces. The soles will have less traction for wet surfaces and the material will not be waterproof. Avoid running shoes if you are hiking through water.

How often do you need to replace hiking shoes? This depends on the quality of the shoe that you buy and the type. Hiking boots usually last a little bit longer than shoes because they are made of thicker materials. If you are someone who hikes regularly all year long you may have to buy a new pair every 1-2 years.

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Chad Fox

Chad Fox is passionate about footwear. Shoes have always been fascinating and knowing which one's are the best is something that he takes seriously.

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