Once upon a time, we humans walked barefoot, all the time. Then, somewhere along the way, a smart human attached animal skins to their feet, and as a species we haven’t looked back. Fast forward to today, and hiking boots represent the pinnacle of human innovation in footwear. Being one of the first specialty shoes, we now have the privilege of a couple centuries’ worth of research and development going into today’s hiking boots. A good pair of hikers will have you out exploring far into the backcountry, over uneven terrain, and in whatever weather Mother Nature throws your way.
But hiking boots are as varied as people’s individual definition of what it means to go for a hike. To some, an hour in the foothills with their dog is good enough. To others, it’s not a hike unless they’ve traversed the continent with only a toothbrush and a couple liters of water in their pack. And every day it seems there is a new pair of hiking boots hitting the market, adding to the already crowded field of options. So where do you start? Right here, that’s where.
The following guide will help you pick the best men’s hiking boots for your budget, style, and intended purpose. Each pair listed here has gone through our rigorous testing process, coming from someone who has spent nearly 30 years exploring the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. We hold no allegiance to any particular brand, seeking to provide you, our readers, with the most up-to-date and comprehensive review of the best hiking boots available today. To see how the boots stack up against one another, check out our comparison table below. And for some more tips on buying the perfect pair for your style, go to our what to look for section. For women specific styles, check out our guide to the best hiking boots for women.
The Best Men’s Hiking Boots
Best Quality Hiking Boots: Zamberlan Tofane NW
Best Day Hiking Boots: Danner Mountain 600
Best Fitting Hiking Boots: Aku Rocket Mid GTX
Best Lightweight Hiking Boots: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX
Best Value Hiking Boots: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Best Budget Hiking Boots: Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP
Most Stylish Hiking Boots: Lems Boulder Summit
Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR
Vasque St. Elias GTX
Salomon Quest 4 GTX
Best Quality Hiking Boots
Zamberlan Tofane NW GTX RR ($495)
Pros: Unbeatable, long-lasting comfort. Can be resoled adding to lifespan.
Cons: Pricey. Takes a while to break in. Heavier than other models.
If your idea of a great time involves crossing major divides with a pack that could supply a small army regiment, the Zamberlan Tofane NW could be the last boot you’ll ever buy. It’s one of those boots that the more you wear it, the better it will feel as the waxed Tuscan leather continue to mold itself to the shape of your foot. Add in a GORE-TEX membrane and these boots are as waterproof and bomber as they come.
One of the last great torchbearers of the art of handmade boots, the Norwegian welted construction is more than just a flex. These boots can be resoled to keep living well after the original sole wears out, meaning this boot can literally last decades of enjoyment out there when properly cared for. Sure other boots can be resoled, but it’s not always the same.
There really aren’t many downsides to share about this boot. Sure, the price tag tops out as the highest of the boots we tested, but when is a handmade Italian leather boot ever cheap? You really do get what you pay for here. That said, due to its weight and price, this is not a boot for day hikers. This is meant for logging miles on big overnight trips where comfort and durability are the cornerstone of a good time. If that is you, then an investment in these boots will end up paying dividends many years down the trail.
Weight: 29.5 oz
Overall Score: 9
Best Day Hiking Boots
Danner Mountain 600 ($190)
Pros: Stylish, comfortable, good traction.
Cons: Not as waterproof or breathable as other models tested.
Danner has been around for over 90 years, and in that time have developed hiking boots that not only work well, but look good at the same time. The Mountain 600 model fits that mold. With a suede leather upper, the boot has a classic look, feels comfortable early on, and only gets better with each step as it breaks in. However, being suede, it isn’t as easy to clean when it gets muddy and takes a bit of extra care on the maintenance side. But the combination of a thick sole and minimal seams had me feeling like this was one of the best fits as a more rugged day hiker that could also put in plenty of miles.
The more I wore these boots the better the fit became, and I could really begin to feel the Vibram SPE midsole offering a responsive cushioning encouraging me to keep hiking. It’s a thick enough sole where it can handle bigger hikes, but responsive enough to let you feel the ground underneath in a good way.
The brown leather boot is a looker as well, with the classic metal eyelets and red laces to give you a more refined style. But for the suede model we tested, the suede comfort is what truly made it stand out.
Weight: 18.5 oz
Overall Score: 8.4
Best Fitting Hiking Boots
Aku Rocket Mid GTX ($220)
Pros: Speed laces provide tight fit.
Cons: Colorway might be too flashy for some.
Aku is not a brand that we’ve had a ton of prior experience with, but their Rocket Mid GTX is a boot we quickly fell in love with. Not only is this boot one of the lightest we tested, it also had the best fit in this humble tester’s opinion. And despite all that lightweight comfort, the boot is solidly waterproof with a GORE-TEX lining. Even on top where the boot has traditional lace tightening, I was able to fully submerge the boots and my socks still came out dry on the other side. It was also the only model in this test with the quick-pull speed lace system that ended up holding tight, even on long hikes.
It’s undeniable that “fit” is a very subjective category, however it’s important nonetheless, and I have to call out where things felt awesome. Everyone has different sized feet and ankles but I can say that I’m in the middle of the road being not too skinny or not too cankle-y. And when it comes to these boots, the great fit is also a testament to the design of the upper boot being just flexible enough to form a nice fit for a wide variety of feet and ankles, while still providing the support of a true hiking boot.
Some people may find the boot too “flashy” with its contrasting colors so style points had to suffer there. But performance -wise, you can’t go wrong with the Rocket Mid GTX.
Weight: 15 oz
Overall Score: 8.2
Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX ($209)
Pros: Lightweight, felt like a dream.
Cons: Not as supportive as other models tested.
Although this boot isn’t the lightest model tested, it felt as though it was. That is likely to the fact that most of the weight seems to be in the sole, where it’s needed most. As such, I found La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor II Mid to be an excellent choice for when moving quickly over rough terrain is essential.
With a GORE-TEX lining and a nylon airmesh upper, the boot handled well in mud and creek crossings. For a lighter, flexible boot, the thick sole helped to stay above most of the muck anyway. But for the times when I couldn’t avoid the muck, I happily trudged through without much worry.
This boot would suit someone who likes to move fast most of the time, but every so often wants to do a few overnights without needing a separate boot. Either way, I found this boot to be comfortable, maneuverable, and capable of withstanding most everything in its path.
Weight: 16.5 oz
Overall Score: 8.2
Best Value Hiking Boots
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX ($239)
Pros: Excellent support and traction.
Cons: Top half of the boot felt loose.
This is a boot that I wanted to like more, but after testing have come to realize that there are simply boots that fit me better. That said, there isn’t much to complain about for the construction of these boots, so if you have a wider ankle and calf, the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX could be a great high-top boot if other models give too tight of a fit. And for the price, you will be hard-pressed to find something that checks so many boxes for being lightweight, supportive, waterproof, and comfortable.
These soles had plenty of cushion to feel excellent on the downhill, ensuring a comfortable ride down even considering the upper part felt loose. For someone who might have a better fit, I could see this being the boot of choice for bigger days where support is essential.
Utilizing both GORE-TEX and La Sportiva’s proprietary Nanocell tech, it’s a remarkably waterproof and breathable boot that doesn’t weigh much more than lower-cut options. For those who have a bit more to spend but don’t want to break the bank, these could be the ideal boot to cover all the bases.
Weight: 16.5 oz
Overall Score: 8.2
Best Budget Hiking Boots
Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP ($145)
Pros: Great value for price/quality, minimal break-in period.
Cons: On the warmer side. Waterproofing isn’t GORE-TEX.
Merrell has been a staple in outdoor footwear since they started in 1983; and the Moab 3 is just the latest in the “Mother Of All Boots” (MOAB) line. As Daniel Zweier said of the low-top version in his review of The Best Hiking Shoes it’s “the dad shoe of hiking.” As a new father I totally see it’s versatility as well as reasonable price being the deciding factor. The idea is that you can wear this boot for all needs, be it hiking, trail running, or simply needing some support on your feet. Each iteration of this boot seems to be a quality advancement on the next. While I’ve never tried the previous models, it’s safe to say that the innovation has led to a remarkably well-performing hiking boot, especially when one considers the price.
These boots felt great right out of the box. They are thicker than other boots tested which adds points on the comfort scale, yet felt a bit warm in the hot sun. It’s important to note that if ventilation is more important than waterproofing, they do offer a more ventilated option—but you’ll have to sacrifice waterproofing for that. But if you’re the type to prefer desert over rainforest, then it’s worth trying out.
It’s not an extremely technical boot; however I’d venture to guess that the majority of people looking for a budget pair of hiking boots aren’t also looking to go for any records on the Appalachain trail. Unless you’re in need of a top-tier technical boot, then you can’t really go wrong with the Merrell Moab 3 which will give you a solid hiking boot for a great price.
Weight: 17 oz
Overall Score: 8
Most Stylish Hiking Boots
Lems Boulder Summit ($185)
Pros: Stylish, lightweight, and comfortable.
Cons: Not GORE-TEX, Harder to clean when muddy/dirty.
If you want a do-all and go-anywhere boot, then look no further. The design on these boots means lends itself to more than just big hikes. Lems has created a winner with a zero-drop hiking boot that is rugged enough to tackle big hikes, yet stylish enough to wear out on the town. Performance-wise I found that the boot handled well in all conditions, from steep embankments to wet rocks and a muddy forest floor. Speaking of mud, that was the main issue with these boots – they seemed to attract the mud a decent bit, at least in the grey nylon construction that we tested. The boot is also available in brown leather.
That said, the look and feel made up for it. If you are the type of person who wants to have the same pair of footwear that can work well in the mountains or the city, this might be the right pair for you. While other boots have a distinct look and feel to them, the Lems Boulder Summit will surprise anyone in your party when they realize that you can in fact look dapper while also getting wild in the mountains.
Of note is the zero-drop construction. Zero drop or “barefoot” shoes, have no “drop” between the heel and the toe – traditional footwear often lifts the heel some millimeters above the toes, which advocates of zero-drop shoes claim throw off body alignment. I’m not going to make any claims for or against here, but if you’ve been curious, or are a fan of zero-drop footwear, this boot is worth checking out.
Weight: 14.8 oz
Overall Score: 8
Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR ($295)
Pros: Comfortable, Great traction, Excellent waterproofing.
Cons: Laces felt quite close together, might suit a wider foot better once broken in.
Italian bootmaker Zamberlan’s Salathe GTX RR felt great right out of the box. Suede isn’t always used on hiking boots due to the fact that heavy use will wear it out faster than other materials. They also need a bit more care and attention to waterproofing, where you’ll need to make sure that you’re keeping on top of treating it under consistent use. That said, I tested these in very wet conditions, and they worked great. How long that will last, though, depends on how much you abuse your shoes, and if you plan on applying waterproof treatments down the line.
However, the ability to have great fitting boots without an extended break-in period just may be enough motivation for some to prefer these boots over others. For a great combination of comfort and fit, and the ability to move quickly through the mountains, these boots are an excellent option. If you are into big expeditions with a larger pack and tend to put your hiking boots though heavy abuse, you might want something a bit burlier.
Weight: 15.7 oz
Overall Score: 8.4
Vasque St. Elias GTX ($230)
Pros: Great value for the money.
Cons: Felt stiff, especially on the sides of the feet.
Most leather boots come with a hefty price tag. The Vasque St. Elias, while a hefty boot, has a much less-hefty price point than other rugged boots on the market. With a GORE-TEX lining and nublock leather on the outside, this boot is built to last and take you deep into the backcountry.
I found the boot to be the most comfortable of the large overnight boots right out of the box. That said, I also found it to have a stiffness that didn’t go away when trying to break in. From what others have said online, a general comment that comes up is that older models were more comfortable. But others gave it rave reviews so I can’t take sides here with just one opinion.
For what it’s worth, many other people have raved about the service that Vasque gives its customers if they aren’t satisfied and I did not take advantage of that, but if you do pick up the boot and find it’s not what you thought then it might be worth having a chat with their service department to look at other options.
But for the price, especially against other similar boots in its class, this would be a good option for narrower feet than mine.
Weight: 24 oz
Overall Score: 7.8
Salomon Quest 4 GTX ($230)
Pros: Lightweight for an expedition-style boot.
Cons: Sole wasn’t as grippy as others in its class.
The Salomon Quest 4 is a beast. Putting it on, right away I could tell that if I were to slip on a hike, the boot would not be to blame. However, I found the sizing to be the largest amongst all boots tested, so sizing down at least a half a size would help for a more snug fit.
Despite the high-top coming up above the calf, the Quest 4 GTX was breathable enough to not feel as though the foot would overheat. While the sole felt springy and responsive, I found it to slip more than other models with similar tread patterns, so had to dock a few points in the traction department.
If needing a good overnight boot that is responsive and pain-free, but don’t have a huge budget for some of the other boots, this might be for you. But if you go out regularly and want something to last more than a few years, it might be worth investing in some expedition boots at a higher price point.
Weight: 23.2 oz
Overall Score: 7
|Best Quality Hiking Boots||Zamberlan Tofane NW||$495||9||29.5 oz||Zamberlan Vibram NorWalk||Full-Grain Waxed Tuscan Leather||GORE-TEX, Waxed Leather|
|Best Day Hiking Boots||Danner Mountain 600||$190||8.4||18.5 oz||Vibram Megagrip||Suede Leather||Danner Dry|
|Best Fitting Hiking Boots||Aku Rocket Mid GTX||$185||8.2||15 oz||Vibram Megagrip||Synthetic Fabric/Microfiber||GORE-TEX|
|Best Lightweight Hiking Boots||La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II GTX||$209||8.2||16.5 oz||FriXion XF 2.0||Airmesh/Microfiber||GORE-TEX|
|Best Value Hiking Boots||La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX||$239||8.2||16.5 oz||Vibram Nano XS-Trek||Nublock Leather||GORE-TEX|
|Best Budget Hiking Boots||Merrell Moab 3 Mid||$145||8||17 oz||Vibram TC5+||Pigskin/Mesh||Waterproof Membrane|
|Most Stylish Hiking Boots||Lems Boulder Summit||$185||8||14.8 oz||Winter Traction Outsole||Oiled Leather/Nylon||Proprietary|
|Honorable Mention: Day Hiking Boots||Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR||$295||8.6||15.7 oz||Vibram Pepe Megagrip||Suede Leather||GORE-TEX|
|Honorable Mention||Vasque St. Elias GTX||$230||7.8||24 oz||Vasque Vibram Frontier||Nappa Leather||GORE-TEX, Nublock Leather|
|Honorable Mention||Salomon Quest 4 GTX||$230||7||23.2 oz||Contragrip TD||Leather/Textile||GORE-TEX|
How We Rated The Best Hiking Boots
Just piling all these products into an overarching category of “Hiking Boots” is a bit of a tall order. In reality, there are as many hiking boots as there are hiking styles, which is vast. So to just rate all these models across the board isn’t doing anyone any favors, here. So for all the ratings we tried to base them on their intended use. Some of the rating categories were more objective, such as traction, durability, and support. But when it comes to fit, there’s really nothing more subjective than that. I did my best to describe how well the boots fit (or didn’t) in relation to my very average feet, ankles and calves, which is worth taking into account in making your purchasing decision.
The boots reviewed fit into three main categories: Hi-Top Hiking Shoes, Light Hiking Boots, and Trekking Boots. Hiking Shoes should feel nimble and fast, yet still provide adequate traction. They will have support, but are designed to feel light rather than being specifically designed to carry a big load. Light Hiking Boots will have a bit of a thicker sole and more ankle support to help with said bigger load, yet still have enough lightness to move quickly should you want it. Finally, Trekking Boots are designed for the long haul, with thick soles and enough support to allow stability while carrying a heavy pack.
In another article we tested hiking shoes, which are worth checking out for a wide range of applications, from casual day hikes up to longer, ultralight backpacks.
If you want something even more casual, try our guide to the best hiking sandals.
Of the models we tested, they fit into the categories as follows:
Hi-Top Hiking Shoes
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II GTX
Light Hiking Boots
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
I’ve been hiking since I was a young lad, which has been several decades at this point. Having grown up in the PNW, I would explore the mountains behind the backyard back when kids roamed free and weren’t allowed home until dusk. Of course, in those days it was just skate shoes and Chuck Taylors. As the years piled on and the peaks I bagged increased in altitude, I began to seek out the best hiking boots for each time period, eventually wanting to settle on a boot that would last many years.
I’ve also worked in the Canadian Rocky Mountains as a hiking guide, so not only did I begin to really notice what worked well on myself, I began to notice the footwear that others talked about as well. Over the years, I’ve seen which boots were raved about, and which ones were complained about. That has led to sourcing the finest boots in this test, and finally going through the testing process of getting out in the wild with these boots.
I tested all of the boots boots on the trails of Squamish Chief in British Columbia. Aside from being one of the most scenic hikes on the continent, the terrain is varied from forest floor to rocky granite outcroppings. Plenty of water runs parallel to the hike, and so I took advantage of that to test the waterproofing capabilities of each boot. I’m pleased to report that all the hiking boots tested here passed the waterproofing test with flying colors, and I have the dry socks to prove it!
What To Look For When Buying Hiking Boots
Fit: This is the most important factor. Even the best hiking boots won’t serve you well if they don’t fit properly. Make sure there’s enough room for your toes to move, but not too much that your feet slide inside the boots. When trying the boots you want to make sure that toes aren’t pressed too tight to the front, otherwise your downhill descents will be too painful. On the other side, make sure your heel doesn’t lift when on the ascent or your day will end with massive blisters.
Material: Materials can largely determine the boot’s durability, breathability, and water resistance. Full-grain leather offers excellent durability and abrasion resistance but is usuall less breathable. Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are lightweight, breathable, and break in quickly, but are less durable.
Waterproofing: If you plan to hike in wet conditions or cross streams, waterproof boots are essential. However, they tend to be less breathable. GORE-TEX is the gold standard for the right combination of waterproofing and breathability, and it’s hard to find anything that matches it.
Breathability: Breathable boots are great for dry, hot environments. They help to dispel the sweat, keeping your feet dry and reducing the risk of blisters.
Weight: Lighter boots are easier to move in, but they may offer less support and cushioning. Heavier boots can provide more support and durability but may tire you out more quickly. It’s important to factor in the type of hiking you do before honing in on whether to get a lightweight hiking boot or a more rugged pair.
Traction: Check the boot’s outsoles. Deep, thick lugs help in muddy conditions, while a heel brake can reduce the chance of sliding during steep descents. Vibram has been a leader for over 80 years, and as far as outsoles go is the leading brand name that people look for.
Durability: This is determined by the materials and the construction of the boot. Boots with fewer seams and high-quality materials tend to last longer.
Cushioning and Support: Check for adequate cushioning in the insole and midsole. A good hiking boot should also provide ankle support.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.