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The sun is shining and the trails are beckoning. But before you embrace the fresh air and summit a new challenge, you’re going to need the right gear—and it starts from the ground up with the best hiking boots. There’s nothing quite as motivating—and inspiring—as putting a new pair of stompers to good use. Even the most seasoned trekkers could use a footwear refresh from time to time.
But you don’t even have to be an outdoorsman to get in on the action. Hitting the trail doesn’t have to mean climbing to higher altitudes; the best hiking boots are also suited for pathways at your local park or weekend camping trips. I, for one, have ventured to the great outdoors plenty of times, always with a cold thermos or craft beer in hand. I’ve walked many paths and tried on many boots in the process. Now, I may not be able to help pitch a tent or start a fire for you, but, after a couple tests, I can definitely recommend comfortable, traction-filled, weather-resistant footwear for whatever you have planned this season. Indeed, any one of the options on this list will make rocky terrains feel smooth.
What to Consider Before Buying the Best Hiking Boots:
If you’re on the verge of buying your first pair of proper hiking boots, the process can feel a bit intimidating. After all, footwear made to withstand the elements are categorically highly technical; we’re not exactly dealing with casual canvas sneakers here. To help, we narrowed down the key factors.
Material: Hiking boots are usually of the mixed-media variety, a blend of materials such as waterproof nubuck leather with lightweight Gore-Tex or mesh inserts, all the better to aid with breathability and keep things lightweight. Some are also made of innovative materials such as Kevlar or nylon blends, which deliver abrasion-resistance and quick-drying performance. There are even options that boast an upper that’s more like a sneaker, made of moisture-wicking mesh or waterproof leather.
Weight: It should go without saying, but the lighter your hiking boots, the better they are to move in. Clunky options, no matter how durable they are, are just no fun on the trail. When it comes to overall weight, the sweet falls somewhere between two and three pounds. Note: Boots that blend sneaker technology with durable lugs will naturally clock in at a lighter weight than traditional leather styles.
Traction: Even the coolest-looking pair of hiking boots is no good without some intense, trail-ready traction. Most feature rubber outsoles that boast thick treads, all the better to grip muddy woodland trails or slick, rocky terrain. Some of the best pairs will also have toe guards for added protection. Consider brands such as Vibram, which specialize in outsoles that blend flexible movement with extreme lugs.
Waterproofing: If you’re truly going to take on the elements, your hiking boots should ideally be billed as “waterproof,” which means that their membranes are made of materials such as treated leather or Gore-Tex. Any trek can quickly veer sideways if your boots (and thus, your socks and feet) get wet early on, so opt for styles that can handle rainfall.
Best Performing Hiking Boots
Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots
Keen is one of the most trusted names in the hiking industry, and its Targhee III—a go-anywhere, trail-ready boot—hits all the right notes. Support arrives via the above-the-ankle height, while the oiled nubuck leather pairs nicely with the brand’s proprietary waterproof membrane. For good measure, multi-directional lugged soles provide proper traction, while the EVA midsole delivers sneaker-esque comfort.
Material: Oiled nubuck leather, waterproof membrane, and rubber outsole.
Weight: 2 lbs., 8 oz.
Best Heritage Hiking Boots
Danner Mountain Light GTX Hiking Boots
Danner has been making handsome, rugged-meets-refined hiking boots for decades, and that’s more than enough reason to invest in a new pair. The Mountain Light, especially, has just about everything you could ask for in a pair of heirloom-worthy hikers, including eye-catching full-grain leather and two-layer Gore-Tex waterproof membrane. There’s also the resoleable Vibram rubber outsole for dependable performance no matter the terrain, along with contrasting speed laces that imbue it with mountaineering-inspired touch.
Material: Full-grain leather and Gore-Tex membrane.
Weight: 3 lbs., 5 oz.
Best Hiking Boots for Rainfall
Columbia Trailstorm Mid Hiking Boots
While plenty of hiking boots are built for wet conditions, there’s one in particular that’s a cut above the rest. True to its name, the Trailstorm boots from Columbia take waterproof performance to the next level, with a mesh upper and a Omni-Tech design. The wedge outsole and Techlite midsole also delivers rebound and cushioning, but it’s really the waterproofing that makes these sleek black boots so appealing.
Material: Mesh upper, waterproof membrane, and rubber outsole.
Weight: 1 lb., 8 oz.
Best Hybrid Hiking Boots
Salomon X Ultra Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boots
Combination hiking boots and sneakers are the future of footwear. One great example is Salomon, a brand that issues trail-running designs as a base to build an all-terrain outsole, which is topped off with a lightweight, PET-coated leather-and-textile upper. The end result is a supremely lightweight hiking boot that wears more like a sneaker. You’ll cruise through your next hike in no time.
Material: PET-coated leather and synthetic fibers.
Weight: 1 lb., 14.4oz.
Best Heavy-Duty Hiking Boots
Rocky MTN Stalker Pro Waterproof Boots
Lightweight boots are preferred for long hikes, but if you plan on staying in one area—foraging, gathering firewood, or even hunting—something heavy-duty is best. Rocky MTN’s Stalker Pro, with its six-inch height, delivers maximum coverage and support over other ankle-length hiking boots. The Vibram Mountaineering outsole is especially beneficial in terms of traction, and speed-hook lacing ensures a snug fit in extreme conditions.
Material: Waterproof full-grain leather and Cordura.
Weight: 1 lb., 12.8oz.
Best Limited-Edition Hiking Boots
Huckberry x Danner Waxed Canvas Light Boots
If your idea of the great outdoors involves overlanding or a cabin getaway, with some light hiking thrown in the mix, you need a pair of boots that can do it all. Enter this limited-edition style, which combines Danner’s hiking technology and Huckberry’s rakish and rugged designs, resulting in something that looks as good as it performs. Waxed canvas, the same found in Huckberry’s Flint and Tinder waxed jackets, delivers texture and the full-grain leather with a nice patina offers up richness. And yes, they’re lined with Gore-Tex and feature a Vibram outsole.
Material: Full-grain leather and waxed canvas.
Weight: 3 lbs., 12 oz.
Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
Hoka Anacapa Breeze Mid Hiking Shoes
Hoka’s expertise is in blazing-fast running shoes. That same technology can also be found in its exceptionally lightweight hiking boots. The recycled PET upper merges nicely with Gold-rated, sustainable leather that sits atop a cushioned springy footbed. They’re also water-repellent. But it’s the streamlined, futuristic look—like something from a sci-fi movie—that takes these hiking boots from good to great.
Material: Nubuck leather and recycled PET mesh.
Weight: 1 lb., 12.8 oz.
Best All-Weather Hiking Boots
Helly Hansen Cascade Mid Hiking Boots
Helly Hansen, a brand that offers styles for alpine conditions of all kinds, is a wise bet when you want to trade in your winter parka for a light jacket, and the mountain slopes for a sunny hiking trail. A sleek all-black color is nicely accented by the label’s durable mesh upper, and details such as a TPU toe cap and heel guard to protect you from the perils of the trail. Also, its Surround-Grip + Max-Grip rubber outsole offers a smooth ride underfoot, and the foam midsole provides all-day comfort.
Material: Mesh membrane and rubber outsole.
Weight: 3 lbs.
Best Leather Hiking Boots
Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots
It can be hard for some of us, including yours truly, to step away from traditional leather hiking boots. Timberland’s Mt. Maddsen boots deliver on this front, but with an update: The full-grain leather is outfitted with a sustainable, waterproof PET membrane. The lugged rubber outsole is also made from 42 percent recycled rubber. Best believe that this pair will only look better with age.
Material: Full-grain leather, recycled PET membrane, and recycled rubber outsole.
Weight: 3 lbs.
Most Stylish Hiking Boots
Aether Apparel Dolomite Boots
If you’re a moderate hiker or just like the outdoors-y aesthetic, Aether has a rich pair that’s right up your alley. The brand took cues from throwback alpine style when crafting these stunning Italian leather boots, a set that’ll take you from scenic woodland trails (the Vibram rubber outsole offers great support and traction) to a night on the town.
Material: Italian leather.
Weight: 3 lbs.