Planning a nature walk at a state park? Heading on a multitrek adventure through a mountain range? Just looking for a style of shoe that’s a bit more rugged? Whatever your reason, a good pair of boots is a must for all nature lovers. The wrong pair of hiking boots—whether they’re a bad fit or a subpar product—can cause any number of problems, including poor arch or ankle support, blisters, soggy feet, and a range of other uncomfortable and even painful issues.
The good news is we’ve done your homework for you. Expert mountain climbers and newbie hikers alike can avoid all the irritating scenarios above by investing in a pair of the best hiking boots that we’ve selected below. These hiking shoes will keep you looking stylish out on the trail, while simultaneously providing comfort and support to keep you safe and focused on the journey ahead.
- Best eco-friendly hiking boots: Timberland Men’s Courma Waterproof Boots
- Best hiking boot that’s durable: Cat Footwear Trespass Boots
- Best backpacking hiking boot: Salomon Women’s Quest 4D 3 GTX Backpacking / Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 3 GTX Backpacking
- Best budget hiking boot: Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Shoe / Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus Ii Suede Waterproof Hiking Boot
Features to focus on when buying the best hiking boots
Choosing the perfect hiking boots is a different process for every person, depending on how often you plan to use them, the terrain where you plan to trek, and, of course, how they feel on your own feet. That said, there are a number of factors that folks may want to take into account when shopping for a superior boot.
Type of hiking boots
Not all hiking boots are made equal, as different types of boots have been designed for different purposes. More or less, hiking boots can be divided into three subgroups: hiking shoes, hiking boots, and backpacking boots. Hiking shoes are typically low-cut and are great for an easy day hike. Some people using shoes for this purpose will even suffice with a light trail runner, depending on preference. Hiking boots are a step up, great for more intense day or multiday treks with a light carry load. And, finally, backpacking boots are the most serious of the three types, ideal for those planning on going out into rough terrain for multiple days, while carrying a heavier load.
Understanding how a hiking boot is made is key to knowing if it’s right for you in terms of comfort, durability, breathability, and resistance to water. Some of the most common materials you’ll see are synthetics (like nylon and polyester), split-grain leather, and full-grain leather. Synthetic materials typically are light, less expensive, and are easier to break in, but they may need to be replaced sooner than other materials and also are less water-resistant. Split-grain leather boots are generally paired with nylon material for a boot that is fairly light and quite breathable. They aren’t the most water-resistant. Full-grain leathers will be the most expensive of the bunch, but are great in terms of durability, water-resistance, and can handle all types of terrain. That said, they take the longest to break in.
Consider your cut: low, medium, or high. The higher cut you have, the more ankle and balance support you’ll have. This also impacts its overall weight.
With the best hiking boots, you can keep your mind focused on the tree-lined path ahead
Once you’ve identified the boot that meets your needs, try it on! You’ll want to make sure that the fit is snug but not too snug, and that the boot will work with various types of socks and orthotics if you need them. Give them a test walk and know that it’s necessary to break in your boots before setting off on a long outdoor adventure.
Hiking boots made with the environment in mind
As a nature lover setting out to enjoy the earth’s bounty, you may be especially mindful of the materials and processes involved in manufacturing your hiking gear. It has become much easier and increasingly important to find eco-conscious products that are made with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, many popular brands focus on ethically produced products, lower carbon emission sources, and other environmentally sound practices to provide hiking boots and other high-quality gear that you can feel good about wearing.
Best eco-friendly hiking boots: Timberland Men’s Courma Waterproof Boots
The Trusted Timbs
Timberlands are reliable, waterproof boots that are a fit for the whole family. Timberland
These waterproof hiking boots are next-level stylish, sustainably produced, and seriously comfortable. You can also feel good about the purchase due to Timberland’s ReBOTL material, which is made of 50 percent recycled plastics, and their LITE—low impact to the environment—leather. The laces are also made of recycled plastics. This process uses less water, energy, and chemicals when making the boots. These Timberland hiking boots have a soft, padded top collar and rubber outsoles. Plus, their antimicrobial OrthoLite insoles are made of a breathable, soft foam that will last when hiking around an urban neighborhood and/or a nearby park.
A hiking boot to stand the test of time
People often prefer to shop for one pair of high-quality, enduring boots that will last over many years of wear and tear. If that sounds like you, one of the most important things to consider when investing in the best hiking boots is durability. You’ll want a pair that will last a lifetime, regardless of whether you’re going on day trips, hiking through a state park, or embarking upon serious multiday or multiweek treks all over the world. In order to be sure you’re making the right choice, check that the brand you’re interested in is reputable and the materials are reliable. Cat Footwear is a good company to start your search.
Best hiking boots for durability: Cat Footwear Trespass Boots
Cat Footwear’s Trespass Boots are stylish trekkers made for men and women, and have the necessary features to provide many years of happy hiking. CAT
These Caterpillar boots come in dark black and a lighter beige shade, as well as unisex sizing. They feature a soft and breathable nylon mesh sock lining, a footbed made from soft EVA foam which is great for long-term comfort, and a durable rubber outsole ideal for traction. Cat Footwear’s Trespass Boots will keep you warm and safe in the face of all sorts of weather, from snow, rain, and sleet to desert heat and milder climates and environments.
Best hiking boots for multiday backpacking
Let’s make this simple: If you’re planning on going on a multiday trek, be it in your home state or across the Andes, a proper backpacking boot is a must-have. The boots you choose will need to be tested out prior to your trip, but once you’ve broken them in, they’ll give you all the safety and durability necessary for a successful and safe trek Leave your worries about nasty blisters and iffy ankle support behind; these are the best men’s and women’s hiking boots for a multiday backpacking trip.
Best hiking boots for backpacking: Salomon Women’s Quest 4D 3 GTX Backpacking / Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 3 GTX Backpacking
Superior Comfort and Stability
The Quest 4D 3 GTX hiking boot model is made with a 4D Advanced Chassis design to help reduce walking fatigue on tough terrain, provide a smooth walking flow, and feel light and cushioned while providing the necessary support. Salomon
These Salomon men’s and women’s backpacking hiking boots are your best bet for all-encompassing adventuring. With features like the SensiFit Foothold which provides a comfortable and snug form-fit, to the ContraGrip Outsole designed to provide maximum traction on all terrain, plus EVA foam for shock attenuation and superior waterproof materials, these Salomon hiking boots are a no-brainer. Most importantly, Saloman is a trusted brand that takes value in providing high-end products for every type of outdoorsy client.
Shopping for hiking gear on a budget
Need a pair ASAP but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars? That’s completely fair. It is certainly possible to find a well-designed, durable, and comfortable hiking boot for less than $100. That said, hiking boots are a type of shoe that you don’t really want to skimp out on. The reason boots cost as much as they do comes down to their materials and their ability to keep you safe and secure over all different sorts of terrain.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly boot, it’s recommended to stay around the $100 range—if you find something far beneath that price tag, you may end up getting a boot that will break down after just a few uses. To get you started, check out these women’s Columbia boots that come in under $90.
Best budget hiking boots: Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Shoe / Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus Ii Suede Waterproof Hiking Boot
A Classic Hiker
These Columbia hiking shoes were inspired by the classic mountaineering boot, offering a stylish yet practical design for taking on your next hike. Columbia
These Columbia hiking boots are great women’s hiking boots as well as men’s hiking boots. They feature a cushioned yet lightweight midsole and rubber outsoles that are great for gripping various types of terrain. Made from full-grain leather and suede, featuring a scratch rubber heel, mesh tongue, and outdoor hardware that will last, these Columbia hiking boots get high marks for being completely waterproof. This pair is ideal for trail hiking and is a great pick for hikers on a budget who don’t want to sacrifice quality.
What is the best hiking boot on the market?
The best hiking boot on the market depends on the hiker in question, as people have different preferences in style and material, as well as different needs depending on their circumstances. That said, the best hiking boot is going to be one that matches your personal requirements in terms of type of shoe (e.g., hiking shoes, hiking boots, or backpacking boots), fit, and support. The ones listed above provide an array of options for various hikers.
Who makes the most comfortable hiking boots?
People often have positive or negative past experiences with certain brands and, thus, they may prefer one company over another. However, brands such as Columbia, Timberland, Salomon, Cat Footwear, and Merrell are known to be reputable and offer numerous different boot options.
How do you know if you are buying the right hiking boot?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to gauge whether you’ve bought the best hiking boots for you until you’ve gone outside and tested them a few times. Still, walking around the store a few times is your best option when deciding if you have a good fit and whether you feel adequately supported. Understanding your own footwear needs and how the design of the boot fits your foot and lifestyle should help you feel secure that you’ve bought the right pair for you.
The final word on choosing the best hiking boots
If you’re a nature lover, you know there’s nothing worse than hopping on a hiking trail only to realize 20 minutes in that you have a new blister forming—except, perhaps, not feeling secure in the amount of ankle support provided for a multiday trek. Both scenarios highlight the importance of investing in the best hiking boots for you and your particular needs. Think hard about where, when, and how long you’ll be wearing your new boots. Doing thorough research ahead of purchasing will help you decide on the type of boot you need, the materials that best suit you, and other important features. Say goodbye to blisters and poor support, and hello to the gorgeous landscapes that await—on and off the trail!>