No piece of gear is more essential to the comfort and success of a hike than a good pair of boots. However, what may be the best type of boot for one hiker might not be the most comfortable choice for another. We’ve tested out some of the best hiking boots on the market in order to help you find the best shoe for every type of trip.
The Rugged Hiker
You want to be prepared for anything the trail throws at you, and don’t want snow, water crossings, or a flimsy boot to get in the way of your adventure. You need Danner’s Explorer boots. These sturdy boots take a bit of time to break in, but once you do, they’ll mold to your feet and last you for life (truly—the Explorers are recraftable.)
A highly durable full-grain leather upper combined with a GORE-TEX liner ensures that your feet will stay dry and warm no matter the conditions—but the breathability of the Explorers allows sweat and moisture to escape, preventing overheating.
A unique molded polyurethane instep supports the arch of the foot, while the Vibram Kletterlift Outsole keeps you stable on even the slipperiest of descents.
The Lightweight Packer
Your pack is heavy enough—don’t add extra weight with big, bulky boots. Instead, bring along Lowa’s Maddox hiking shoes. These sleek shoes clock in at around 10 ounces each, keeping you feeling fast on your feet.
The minimalist design doesn’t sacrifice support—there are plenty of shock absorption and stability features built into these shoes.
The All-Around Hiker
You want to invest in one pair of quality boots that will work for any type of trip—be it a multiday backpacking challenge or an easy walk on a well-maintained trail. Danner’s Mountain 600 boots have you covered. Weighing just 30 ounces per pair (for the women’s version), the Mountain 600 won’t drag you down or fatigue your feet.
Despite the light weight, these boots have some seriously functional features. The stylish suede exterior is lined with the brand’s trademarked Danner Dry 100% waterproof barrier, which will keep your feet dry in any weather condition. No matter how slick the trail gets, you’ll remain surefooted thanks to the Mountain 600’s Vibram Fuga outsole.
These boots perform so well that we’d buy them regardless of appearance, but the classic styling is an added bonus and works well for one-bag trips—you can pair these with jeans and wear them around an urban environment without a second glance.
The Winter Hiker
Snow and ice won’t force you indoors, so treat your feet to warm, cozy comfort with Merrell’s Thermo Rhea Mid Waterproof boots. A fleece lining keeps heat in, while a waterproof full grain leather upper and waterproof membrane keeps moisture out—so you can stay out in the elements no matter what the conditions.
The boots are packed with 200 grams of lightweight, non-bulky insulation plus Primaloft Aerogel over the toe box (that you won’t feel, but you’ll know it’s there thanks to your toasty toes) so you can keep your mind focused on the hike rather than your freezing feet.
The Hiker Who Only Wants to Pack One Pair of Boots
A trip that involves city walking, fine dining, and hiking can be a tough one to pack for—unless you have Cole Haan’s Zerogrand Omni Hikers. At first glance, these boots pass for trendy footwear, so you won’t feel out of place walking into a restaurant wearing them.
However, take them out to the trails and see these boots shine—they’re waterproof, padded for comfort, and offer plenty of support.
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