Hiking boots are a kind of footwear specially designed for hiking on mountain trails. For someone to go hiking, there is some basic essential gear you need to carry- chief among which are hiking boots. Getting the right pair of hiking boots is important because a hiking boot can determine your overall comfort and performance. However, it is also important that you know the type of climb you intend to do before you get yourself a hiking boot. Hiking boots come with different features designed for specific purposes. To get a better idea, look at the different types of hiking boots listed below.
5 Types of Hiking Shoe
- Trail Shoes: These types of boots are specially designed for trail running. Trail shoes come with extra support, stiff midsole, and heel brakes. These shoes offer quick mobility as they are lightweight. Trail shoes are comfortable and great for distance running. These shoes are great for light hiking, backpacking, and trail running. Trail shoes come with aggressive treads. However, trail shoes, in general, are not very durable or stiff and offer less protection to your feet.
- Light Hiking shoes: These types of shoes are more durable as compared to trail shoes. They provide more support and protection. These types of hiking shoes are usually lightweight and are designed to provide traction for better hiking performance. They are made with aggressive treading and a stiff sole. The outsole has multi-directional lugs that offer excellent traction.
- Mid-Weight Hiking Boots: These boots come with additional ankle support. Mid-Weight hiking boots offer durability, a secure and comfortable fit, and exceptional traction. These types of boots have lace closure that allows for a secure ankle placement. These boots are lightweight.
- Mountaineering Boots: These types of boots are on the heavier side and are rigid. Mountaineering boots are crampon-compatible and are designed to support heavy loads. These types of boots can be used for hiking or ice climbing, as they are generally insulated.
- Heavy Backpacking Boots: Heavy Backpacking Boots are comparatively heavier than mid-weight hiking boots. These boots come with a stiff sole and provide excellent ankle support. The outsoles of heavy hiking boots are designed to handle rough terrain. These boots offer a protective and comfortable fit. Heavy boots are designed to carry extra weight.
Tips on Choosing the Right Hiking Boot
Purchasing a good hiking boot can solely depend on the type of hiking trail you plan on traversing. Finding the perfect pair of hiking boots can be confusing sometimes. So, here is a list of features to help you choose the right hiking boot.
- Waterproof: Nobody likes to run or walk around with your feet feeling damp. While purchasing a hiking boot, consider looking for a waterproof boot because while hiking, you will experience both dry and wet surfaces. So, to avoid your feet feeling sore from blisters or giving off a bad odor or worse, purchase a boot that comes with waterproof material. Waterproof boots offer breathability while still allowing perspiration to flow through. They also protect your feet from the wet conditions.
- Weight: It is extremely important to consider the weight of your hiking shoes because the heavier your boots are, the harder the climb will feel. Heavy footwear can make a person exhausted faster than lighter footwear. Try to avoid unnecessary leg pressure because hiking requires a lot of upper and lower body strength.
- Injury Defense: Injuries like twisted ankles or stubbed toes are some of the most common a hiker will face while hiking. Although such injuries are common for hikers, you should try to prevent your toes or ankle from injuries, by looking for a boot that comes with injury defense. Make sure to select a shoe with enough toe room and a rubber outsole.
- Rand: Rand impacts the durability of your boots as well as protects your toe from injury. Rand is a rubber guard in the front of the outer boots. So, try purchasing a hiking boot that comes with a rand that will protect your toes in case you kick into a hard rock or ice or any hard surface while hiking.
- Lining: Your boots may be waterproof, but it won’t help your feet from sweating. Consider a boot that offers an inner lining that is water-resistant and provides ventilation. Water-resistant lining often offers anti-microbial treatment for averting odors. This lining also offers breathability and comfort.
- Padded Collar: Hiking boots with padded collars ensure ankle support on the trail. Padded collars provide comfort and protection; therefore, if you plan on purchasing a hiking boot, look for a boot that comes with a thicker collar.
- Gusseted Tongue: Look for a hiking boot that comes with a gusseted tongue. In case you are wondering what a gusseted tongue is, it is when the tongue of the boots are attached to the upper of the boots. Gusseted Tongues will protect dirt, debris, and water from getting inside your boots.
With all that said, a hiking boot is only as good as the sock that goes in it. If you’d like some recommendations for good boot socks for hiking, check out our Hiking Sock Buying Guide.
Mountaineering and hiking boots can be very expensive. However, if you are a beginner or someone who doesn’t like to spend much on a quality hiking shoe, don’t worry. Here are three best value hiking boots for you that offer high performance on all sorts of terrain.
Aku Selvatica Gtx Walking Shoe (Women’s):
Aku Selvatica shoe is excellent for multi-terrain activities. This shoe provides comfort and is lightweight. The upper of the shoe is designed with welded Polyurethane rubber lining. The outsole of the shoe is made of Vibram rubber that offers extreme comfort and steadiness. Aku Selvatica provides mega grip midsole and a flexible footbed. The insole of this shoe ensures breathability and shock absorption. This Selvatica shoe offers great traction on all surfaces providing a great, comfortable experience.
Keen Targhee III Mid Hiking boots (Men’s):
Keen Mid Hiking boots are another great value pair of hiking boots. These boots are waterproof and provide premium breathability. The outer sole of this shoe is made of Gum rubber with 4mm multi-directional lugs for excellent traction. It comes with a synthetic upper and inner as well. It provides a lace-up closure system. Keen hiking shoes come with Thermoplastic Polyurethane soles that ensure comfortable heel capture and sturdiness. This hiking boot is lightweight and offers good performance.
If you are a little more specialized in your hiking and have decided that a trail shoe will suit you best, here are our top 5 favorite trail shoes:
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running boots:
Altra Lone Peak Trail running boots are some of the most comfortable trails running boots available in the market for both men and women. This shoe comes with moderate cushioning on the inside, which provides comfort during trail running. The Altra Peak running boot comes with a lace-up closure, which can be adjusted according to your comfort. Altra Lone boots are one of the best trail boots, and the outsoles of the boots are designed with MaxTrack rubber that allows exceptional traction. Peak Trail boots are lightweight and have a stone guard plate that protects against rocks. It comes with a comfortable foot shape that allows your big toe to remain straight and your other toes to relax. This running boot has 5mm contour footbeds and a stack height of 25mm.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail-Running Shoe:
The La Sportiva Ultra Trail-Running shoe is one of the best off-trail boots and comes with a thermoplastic lace-up closure, which provides a secure fit and allows for micro-adjustments. The height of these boots goes up to the ankle. It has moderate cushioning on the inner closure, which provides a relaxed running experience. The upper of these boots are finished with leather and thermoplastic urethane that are highly breathable. The midsole of these boots is designed with compressor-molded Ethylene-vinyl acetate, which helps in absorbing shock and offers plenty of cushioning. And the outsoles are made of sticky rubber with an impact brake system. La Sportiva Trail boots provide excellent traction.
Salomon XA Pro Trail-Running Shoe:
The Salomon Pro Trail Running shoe is the best off-trail boot among many. This shoe is designed with breathable synthetic mesh uppers. This boot is also among the best trail boots that come with a moderate cushioning closure that provide a comfortable fit. These boots are made with a 3D advance heel that delivers steadiness on the trail. Salomon Pro Train running boots come with a unique quick-lace design that allows you to customize your fit to your comfort. Just pull the lace, then lock the toggle, and you are good to go. The outsole of the shoe is designed with a combination of different types of rubbers that enable a perfect grip on both dry and wet surfaces. And the midsole is injected with Ethylene-vinyl acetate. The aggressive lug pattern on the inner sole imparts outstanding traction. The footbed of the boots provides an anti-microbial treatment that puts off bad odors. This boot comes with a protective toe guard that protects against collision and abrasion.
Brooks Cascadia 14 Trail-Running Shoe:
This Brooks Trail Running shoe is designed with synthetic lining and a lace-up closure that allows for adjustability. It comes with a lace-guard that keeps the laces secured and out of the way. This boot is updated with a stabilizing suspension system to keep you fixed on jagged terrain. And the flexibility of the outsole helps you move comfortably over mixed terrain. The sole of this trail boot comes with mudguards that protect against mud and trail debris. The outsoles on the Brooks Trail shoe offer excellent traction on both wet and dry surfaces. Brooks Cascadia running shoes are light weight and offer maximum comfort.
Hoka One Speedgoat 4 Trail Running shoe:
The Hoka Speedgoat is an excellent technical scrambling boot. This trail shoe is lightweight and has maximum cushioning that delivers comfort while running. The upper of the shoe is designed with a breathable synthetic mesh. This boot comes with a 3D-printed foam overlay that enhances midfoot support and offers a secured fit. Hoka Speedgoat boots provide a wider forefoot construction for a more cozy and stable fit. This shoe tongue comes with tactical cutouts for additional breathability. The outsoles of the shoes are made of rubber, with a 5mm stepped lug that delivers a protected grip on both wet and dry conditions. The Hoka Speedgoat running shoe is also considered the best off-trail running shoe by many.
Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots:
Merrell Moab Mid hiking boots are waterproof and the upper is designed with suede leather mesh that has protective rubber toe caps. This boot comes with a waterproof lining that seals out water and lets the moisture escape so you can stay dry. Merrell’s shoe tongue is designed with bellowed foam, and it keeps moisture and debris out. The footbed of these boots is injected with Ethylene Vinyl Acetate to provide heel support. The cushioned heel absorbs shock and adds solidity. The outsole of this shoe is made of Vibram TC5 rubber and has 5mm lug depth for excellent grip. The Merrell Moab Hiking shoe is essential for hiking, especially because of its waterproof nature that prevents your feet from feeling damp while hiking in wet surfaces. These hiking boots provide an overall comfortable fit.
Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boots:
The Salomon Quest Hiking boot is designed with nubuck leather and Gore-Tex lining that offers outstanding protection against water and allow vapor to run off, helping keep your feet dry. These hiking boots come with enhanced stability and cushioning that provide comfort. The midsole of these boots is inserted with Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, and the outsole is made of durable rubber with a lug design to offer a better grip. This Hiking boot comes with a 4D improved chassis that allows for a smoother experience. Salomon Quest hiking boots are durable, and the uppers offer flexibility and are lightweight. They come with a padded tongue and a removable footbed that absorbs shock. These hiking boots provide a comfortable and secure fit.
Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX Hiking Boots:
These hiking boots are made of nubuck leather and are waterproof. The upper is designed with high abrasion leather and mesh panels that are breathable and supportive. The midsole of these boots is injected with EVA cushion pads that offer comfort all day. Vasque Breeze Hiking boots offer heel and toe ventilation that increases airflow along with the footbed. The outsole of these boots is made of sticky, mega grip rubber that enhances your grip in all weather and surface conditions. This Vasque Breeze Mid shoe is one of the best overall hiking shoes.
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Low Hiking boot:
Merrell hiking boots are designed with durable suede leather and breathable mesh lining. The shoe tongue come in the form of cushion foam to keep moisture and debris out. It has a supportive contoured footbed and heel support that absorbs shock and adds firmness. Merrell hiking boots come with an EVA midsole that ensures comfort and stability. And the outsole is made of Vibram rubber with a 5mm lug depth for a perfect grip. This shoe comes with a lace-up closure and is sustainable.
3 Best Mountaineering Boots:
La Sportiva Olympus Mons Evo boot:
The La Sportiva Olympus is a mountaineering boot that comes with excellent features. This boot is waterproof and comes with polyethylene thermal insulation in the inner boots. It is combined with a substitute insulated heated-reflective exterior for a warmer performance. La Sportiva boots are considered as one of the best mountaineering boots available in the market. This La Sportiva boot is lightweight and an excellent choice for extremely cold conditions. The outsole of these boots is made of rubber. This boot is best used for mountaineering, trekking, and alpine climbing. La Sportiva boots come with an outer boot zipper and a Velcro strap seal to secure the feet.
Scarpa Fuego Mountaineering Boot:
Scarpa builds excellent high-performance footwear, and the fuego is one of the best mountaineering boots. It comes with excellent features. This Scarpa Boot is great for hiking, skiing, climbing, mountaineering, and trail running. This Scarpa mountaineering boot is made of 100% leather. The outsole is designed with Vibram leather. The heels of these boots measure approx 1.5 inches, and the boot opening measures approx 15 inches. This Scarpa boot provides classic design and a comfortable fit. The tongue of this mountaineering boot is doubled and gusseted to ensure complete protection and an outstanding fit. This boot is durable and warm, which is great for mountaineering.
La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering boots:
This La Sportiva boot is one of the best mountaineering boots available featuring Gore-Tex insulated comfort and a waterproof breathable closure for weather protection. These boots offer a lace-up adjustable foot closure. The upper of the shoe is designed with 3.2mm silicone-injected Idro-Perwanger leather that offers high abrasion-resistant fabric. The outsole of the shoe is made of Vibram rubber with an impact reduction system. The tongue of these boots can be adjusted to fit and is removable. The La Sportiva mid-sole is made of 9mm thermoplastic polyurethane and air cushions that provide stability and comfort.
A good pair of hiking boots is one of the most important pieces of equipment for any hiker. It is crucial to always choose a hiking shoe depending on the weather conditions, trail surface, and the distance you intend to hike. Look for a shoe that fits you right; it shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, lest it slip off. Always try it on before you purchase. If you are someone who doesn’t like to carry much weight, trail shoes can be a good option. But if you intend on off-trail hiking, heavier boots will be a better choice as it offers greater support and excellent traction.