What are the best hiking shoes in terms of quality, comfort and price?
That depends on whom you ask!
We’ve thoroughly tested and researched some of the top brands and highlight them for you in our guide below.
From sole to shoelaces, we’ve taken everything into consideration in order to provide you with choices that you can feel good about spending money on.
Refer to our guide to help you find the right pair for your feet and hiking needs.
Determine Your Comfort Level
Some shoes are more comfortable as a whole than others, but comfort also depends a lot on your feet and your individual needs.
When you’re shopping for hiking shoes, consider the following:
- Arch Support. Make sure the shoe provides you with the proper support based on your arches. If you have low arches, you’ll want a pair of motion control or stability shoes.
For high arches and those who underpronate, a pair of neutral shoes or cushioned shoes are best.
- Ankle Support. If you need a little extra ankle support, look for shoes with a snug fit in the back.
- Cushioning. Cushioning isn’t useful to everyone, however, if most of your hikes are long (6-7 hours or all day hikes) then you’ll appreciate a little extra cushioning out on the trail.
Top 10 Hiking Shoes Table
|1. KEEN Women's Voyageur||Women||$||4.6|
|2. Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator||Men||$$$||4.5|
|3. Ahnu Women's Sugarpine Air Mesh||Women||$$$||4.5|
|4. Vasque Men's Mantra 2.0||Men||$$$$||4.5|
|5. Merrell Women's Moab Ventilator||Women||$$||4.5|
|6. KEEN Men's Targhee II||Men||$||4.3|
|7. Merrell Men's Chameleon Prime||Men||$$||4.3|
|8. Salomon Men's X Ultra Prime||Men||$$$||4.3|
|9. KEEN Women's Gypsum||Women||$$$$||4.3|
|10. Salomon Women's Ellipse GTX||Women||$$$$||4.3|
Why Not a Boot?
- Lighter. Boots obviously have more material, which makes them heavier and bulkier.
One of the nice things about hiking shoes is that they are lightweight, which is noticeably different when you’re hiking uphill!
- Longer Distances. Since they are lighter in weight and don’t sit as high on your legs as boots do, it makes them more comfortable to wear for longer hikes.
- Cooler. Shoes tend to have a higher percentage of mesh incorporated into the uppers than boots do.
This is great for breathability, which makes them ideal if you’ll be hiking in hot climates.
- Approaches. Sometimes there is a bit of ground to cover before you get to your rock-climbing destination, and the right pair of approach shoes are perfect for the type of terrain you’ll be hiking over (scrambling over rocks, stones and boulders).
These shoes should provide you with excellent traction since you won’t be heading over any man-made or well-traveled trails.
Climate and Terrain
Hiking shoes are best in warmer, drier climates; however, some models do provide you with greater water repellency than others.
- Uppers. You’ll find that more flexible materials like mesh and nubuck leather are good for a variety of reasons.
Mesh is not only flexible but also breathable, which means that your feet stay dry and cool as you walk. Soft leather uppers area great because they have more give, which is nice for descents when your foot tends to slide forward into the toe of the shoe (hard materials make it feel like you’re running into a barrier and softer materials are more flexible.
Some hiking shoes, for added protection, are hard in the toe, which can be a bit uncomfortable at certain points of a hike. Something to consider as you shop!
- Lug Pattern. The type of terrain you’ll be hiking on determines the type of lug pattern you need.
For rough, rocky terrain, you’ll need a pair of shoes with tall lugs (4mm) that are multi-directional. The Keen Targhee II shoes are a good example.
If you’re walking on slippery surfaces, smaller, shorter lugs will help provide you with good traction.
Shoes like the Merrell Chameleons are great for those of you who also incorporate a bit of rock climbing into your hike since the lugs fold over the toe of the shoe for extra grip in the front.
- Tongue and Padding. Remember to check out the padding around the top of the shoe.
You want something that is comfortable yet provides you with a snug fit in order to keep the debris out.
Don’t Forget to Waterproof Them Occasionally
Sometimes a shoe’s level of water protection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Manufacturers can sometimes use the term to their benefit in order to sell a shoe, which means you need to be extra careful as you shop.
Some materials do provide you more moisture protection that others (take Gore-Tex, for example) and others a medium level of protection (treated leather); however, it’s up to you to ensure that the shoe performs at peak water repellency throughout the year.
If you don’t already own waterproofing spray for shoes, go out and buy some.
You’ll need to apply it at least once a year as a minimum (if water doesn’t bead up when it drops on the shoe, then it’s time to re-waterproof), but frequent hikers will probably need to re-waterproof them every few months.
Top 5 Best Hiking Shoes Reviews
If you’re headed out for a desert hike, you’ll love having the Voyager shoes on your feet.
The lug pattern is especially good on chunky surfaces (large rocks and stones) and the rubber toe guards will help protect your feet in said rough terrain.
Comfort-wise, we love that it provides you with plenty of cushioning (great on long hikes) and arch support. The shock absorption is excellent and provides you with a smoother ride even on the roughest terrain.
Because they are so breathable and keep your feet cool, this also means that they aren’t going to offer you much water resistance. This isn’t a flaw in the shoe, it’s just the way it was designed.
If this doesn’t sound like the right one, then check out some of the other great options below.
If you have flat feet, then these shoes from Merrell must might be perfect for you.
The lug pattern on the Moab is rather unique, providing you with stability on any surface; however, they didn’t put any lugs under the arch so that you have more flexibility as you move from one surface to another. They’re also air cushioned in the heel to help with shock absorption and provide you with more stability.
These also do an excellent job at keeping the debris out; a very handy feature when you’re walking through a brushy area!
Ideal for warmer, drier climates since, like the previous pair, the mesh provides breathability and not water protection.
This isn’t your average looking hiking shoe, but it’s pretty popular among female hikers.
The uppers are a unique combination of waterproof leather and breathable mesh in order to keep your feet cool and dry as you hike.
This also has a thick, gusseted tongue to help keep rocks and debris out of your shoe, along with a rubber toecap for added protection.
In terms of support, these provide you with excellent heel and mid-foot support along with a dual density EVA footbed for extra shock absorption.
Oh, and the 3.5mm cross directional lugs are also self-cleaning. A nice feature when you walk through particularly muddy areas!
A great shoe if you’re headed into damp areas.
If you’re looking for a shoe that will perform like a boot, then the Mantra 2.0 from Vasque is right up your alley (er – trail).
These shoes feature a Vibram Nuasi sole (which means that the sole of the shoe was made by Vibram, specifically with their Nuasi tread pattern). It has compound and angular, multi-directional lugs (good traction) and a rubber sidewall wrap in the toe to help protect you on particularly rough trails.
The uppers are made from nubuck leather and they also have mesh panels for breathability. Perfect for long hikes.
These are probably some of the best hiking shoes for men on our list. They do offer a women’s version, as well, and Vasque also has woman-specific sizing.
We’ve seen plenty of positive feedback regarding these shoes, so they’re definitely worth a try!
We already suggested the Moab Ventilator for men, but the women’s version is equally as good.
They all of the features that the men’s version do (so see our previous comments on number two above) and for many female hikers, these shoes are ideal.
Comfortable to wear all day and tough as nails!