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a row of hiking boots on a log in the woods

Just a few of the hiking boots we tested to bring you this guide. Photo: Steve Andrews/The Inertia


The Inertia

Hiking is one of the purest ways to find freedom in nature. The ability to get far out of civilization is a privilege that, to many, is the key to staying sane in this crazy world. And with a good pair of hiking boots, that freedom comes with comfort, protection, and durability, ready for whatever conditions Mother Nature throws your way.

The following guide will help you choose the best hiking boots for your budget, style, and intended purpose. Each pair listed here has gone through our rigorous testing process. Our testers are a crew of passionate hikers devoted to exploring the world’s best mountains and trails. We have been testing these boots year-round, making sure that we break them in properly and giving them plenty of time to demonstrate how they hold up to a variety of conditions.

To see how the boots stack up against one another, check out our Comparison Table below. For some more tips on buying the perfect pair for your style of getting out there, go to our Buyer’s Guide section. For women’s-specific styles, check out our guide to the Best Hiking Boots for Women. And, if you need the perfect accessory to round out your hiking experience, see below for our Hiking Accessories Guide.

The Best Hiking Boots of 2024

Best All-Around Hiking Boots: Lowa Renegade Mid GTX
Runner Up, Best All-Around Hiking Boots: Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX
Best Budget Hiking Boots:  Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP
Best Women’s Hiking Boots: La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX
Best Quality Hiking Boots: Zamberlan Tofane NW GTX RR
Best Lightweight Hiking Boots: Xero Shoes Ridgeway
Best Winter Hiking Boots: Merrell Thermo Rogue 4 GTX


Best All-Around Hiking Boots

Lowa Renegade Mid GTX ($255)

our pick for best all around hiking boots was lowa renegade mid GTXWeight: 19.5 oz
Upper Material: Nublock Leather
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Evo Rubber
Pros: Excellent quality and durability, great value
Cons: Large soles feel like they should have stronger upper material to match

Lowa is a German company that has been making boots for 100 years. German engineering is rightly famous, and these hiking boots don’t dissapoint. What’s surprising, though, is just how well-made these boots are for the price, which was enough of a factor for us to give them the “Best All-Around” award.

They are durable, supportive, and will last a very long time. With Vibram outsoles and GORE-TEX waterproofing and breathability, these boots will perform well and keep your feet cozy as the miles stack up. The laces are easy to tie up and hold well despite trying our best to get them to loosen. The only thing we noticed was that although comfortable, the upper of these boots did not meet the rigidity of the midsole and outsole, making for a bit of an identity crisis on whether this boot was meant for more rugged hikes or something in the mid-range.

With such a burly outsole, this boot can definitely go the distance. Make sure your calves can as well!

There isn’t much we can say that would hold us back from getting more pairs. Only that, if you’re not into serious hiking with a heavy pack, this might be too much boot for general day-hiking use. But if you want a pair of hiking boots that will keep you upright, handle miles upon miles of rough terrain, and stay dry as long as any boot can, then you’ll be happy in a pair of Lowa’s Renegade Mid GTX.

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Runner Up: Best All-Around Hiking Boots

Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX ($319)

The scarpa kailash trek gtx won runner up for the best all around hiking bootsWeight: 21.5 oz
Upper Material: Suede and Nylon
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Biometric / XS Trek
Pros: Reinforced toe cap for added durability; steel lace hardware makes for a tight fit that lasts
Cons: Thick midsole gives a higher center of gravity

This boot just missed a  “Best All-Around” nod, with the affordability of the Lowa being the standout difference. But for someone who wants a do-all, go-anywhere boot, you can’t go wrong with the Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX.

Hordes of devoted fans agree; it’s Scarpa’s best-selling hiking boot for many years. And that’s saying something. Scarpa is based in Italy, where hiking is a religion, and the competition among quality hiking boots is as stiff as it gets. The Scarpa designers have come close to perfection with this boot.

The GORE-TEX waterproofing never failed, no matter how hard we tried to get water inside. The boots felt great right out of the box and handled an 11-mile hike in Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains without any soreness afterward.

With reinforced toe and heel pieces, this boot plays like a much more burly pair of hikers but still allows one to be nimble and agile, with or without a pack. Scarpa uses Euro sizing, which can be a bit confusing if you’re used to the North American sizes. So, if you’ve never had a pair and are unsure of the sizing, it’s wise to try on a pair first before buying to be totally sure.

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Best Budget Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP ($150)

we tested the merrell moab mid 3 for our best hiking boots test

Weight: 16.5 oz
Upper Material: Pigskin/Mesh
Lining: Waterproof Membrane
Outsole: Vibram TC5+
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 it 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.” And while that is a mild burn on this shoe’s styling, it also speaks to how versatile it is. The idea is that you can wear this boot for a wide variety of applications, be it hiking, yard work, or simply needing some extra support under your feet. Each iteration of this boot is a quality advancement on the last. The Moab 3’s newest additions include more cushioning and the use of partially recycled materials.

These boots felt nice right away. The upper is thicker than other boots we tested, which adds points on the comfort scale, yet felt a bit warm in the hot sun. If ventilation is a more important factor than waterproofing, Merrell does offer a more ventilated option, but you’ll have to sacrifice waterproofing for that. Also, note — the waterproofing used in this boot isn’t GORE-TEX. Merrell opted instead for a proprietary membrane. As such, the breathability was noticeably lower than some of the GTX boots we tested. So that’s where you’ll need to make a choice between waterproof and non-waterproof based on how wet the trails around you are.

It’s not an extremely technical boot. However, we’d venture to guess that the majority of people looking for a budget pair of hiking boots aren’t looking to crush any records on the Appalachian Trail. Unless you’re in need of a top-tier technical boot, then you can’t really go wrong with the Merrell Moab 3. Read our review of the women’s Merrell Moab 3 here.

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Best Women’s Hiking Boots

La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots ($189)

La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Weight: 14.2 oz
Upper Material: Recycled air mesh
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Ecostep Evo
Pros: Comfortable, break-in period is minimal
Cons: Wide fit may not be ideal for narrow feet

While a lot of high-quality hiking boots have a hefty break-in period, the La Sportiva X Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots are comfortable right out of the gates — relatively speaking. Like any boots, they felt a little stiff on our first hike, but they didn’t present any issues and kept getting more comfortable with each use.

The TX Hike Mid GTX boots are eco-friendly: they sport a recycled collar lining, recycled and Bluesign-certified GORE-TEX lining, recycled laces and nylon webbing, 15% recycled EVA Midsole, 100% PFC-free leather treatment, and a Vibram Ecostep Evo Outsole with 30% recycled content. The GORE-TEX linings ensure these boots are waterproof while remaining breathable.

Inspired by trail running shoes, these boots have lightweight mesh on the uppers. The Vibram Ecostep EVO outsoles with Impact Brake System offer reliable traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

Our female tester has narrow feet, and the TX Hike Mid GTX Boots boast a wide, comfortable fit. So she was nervous they wouldn’t work, but found the boots cinched down for a great fit and performance on the trail. Supportive, comfortable, and durable, it’s safe to say we’re fans of the La Sportiva X Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots. Read the full review here.

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Best Quality Hiking Boots

Zamberlan Tofane NW GTX RR ($495)

our pick for best luxury leather hiking boots was zamberlan tofane nwWeight: 29.5 oz
Upper Material: Waxed Tuscan leather
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Zamberlan Vibram NorWalk
Pros: Unbeatable, long-lasting comfort, can be resolved for longer 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 GTX RR 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 — the waxed Tuscan leather really does need a hefty break-in period. 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, Zamberlan’s Norwegian welted construction is more than just a flex. This traditional technique stitches the upper to a leather welt and then to the sole, creating a durable and water-resistant bond. It also allows for resoling, meaning these boots can last for decades with proper care.

There really aren’t many downsides to share about this boot, other than at 29.5 oz they are the heaviest boots on our list. 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. The Zamberlan Tofane NW GTX RR is meant for logging rugged miles on big overnights while carrying a heavy pack. If that is you, then an investment in these boots will end up paying dividends many years down the trail.

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Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

Xero Shoes Ridgeway ($140)

the xero ridgeway made our list of the best hiking boots

Weight: 13 oz
Upper Material: Suede/Polyester textile
Lining: Polyester textile
Outsole: FeelTrue Rubber
Pros: Lightweight, wide toe-box, zero-drop, great price
Cons: Laces get sticky when loosening and tightening

These boots are brand new this year from Xero Shoes, a minimalist shoe company with legions of loyal followers and a cult-like status. Their hiking boot offering, the Ridgeway, is built from scratch to give bigger hiking boots (both in size and status) a run for their money.

It’s lightweight at 13 oz, and sports a wide toe box that allows toes room to wiggle and stretch as you go about your day. It’s also waterproof, with Xero Shoes’ proprietary lining keeping the moisture out as we traversed through stream crossings and muddy puddles galore.

The main issue we found was in the flat laces — they are a pain to loosen up, especially if you’ve been on a dusty trail. So we recommend swapping them out for some round laces to make the experience more enjoyable.

The outsole is plenty durable (Xero Shoes offers a 5,000-mile warranty) yet remains thin enough to allow the bottom of the foot to respond to the ground underneath. The result? A more mindful step in nature that (some say) pays dividends.

Zero-drop or “barefoot” shoes and boots have no “drop” between the heel and the toe — traditional footwear often lifts the heel several millimeters above the toes, which advocates of zero-drop shoes claim throw off body alignment. We won’t make any claims for or against here, but if you’ve been curious or are a fan of zero-drop footwear, it’s worth seeing how it feels.

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Best Winter Hiking Boots

Merrell Thermo Rogue 4 GTX ($260)

the merrell thermo rogue 4 gtx hiking boots

Weight: 20 oz
Upper Material: Ballistic Nylon and TPU
Lining: GORE-TEX, PrimaLoft
Outsole: Vibram ArcticGrip
Pros: Super comfortable, warm but not overly warm
Cons: Design may seem too flashy for some

Insulated boots can be problematic. When it’s cold out, we are stoked when we first put them on, but as soon as the blood gets flowing, they can quickly become too warm. Not so with Merrell’s Thermo Rogue 4 GTX, which provided adequate warmth on cold mornings and in the snowy alpine, but never so much as to become a sweat bucket.

With 200g PrimaLoft insulation, the boots trapped just enough heat to keep us comfortable. Add in a GORE-TEX upper to keep you dry, and these hiking boots are equipped for some seriously fun adventures when the weather turns frosty.

Did we mention how comfortable they are? Because whatever Merrell has done with the footbed needs special recognition. The boots felt excellent from the first lace-up and have been going strong for many a mile after. Add in the Vibram Arctic Grip specialized winter rubber compound underneath, and we are confident that you’ll find these an ideal choice for cold-weather hikes. Read the full review here.

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Hiking Boots: Best of the Rest

Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR ($295)

Zamberlan's Salathe GTX RR

Weight: 15.7 oz
Upper Material: Suede
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Pepe megagrip
Pros: Comfortable, great traction, excellent waterproofing
Cons: Needs a bit of break-in for optimal fit

Italian bootmaker Zamberlan’s Salathe GTX RR felt pretty good initially, although with a bit of mileage, the fit only improved. Suede isn’t always used on hiking boots due to the fact that heavy use will wear it out faster than other materials. The material also needs a bit more care and attention to waterproofing than other types of leather.

That said, we submerged these in a river, and they worked great. How long that protection 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 solid boots that don’t need a huge break-in period to feel comfortable may be just enough motivation for some to prefer these boots over selections. For a great combination of comfort and fit, and the ability to move quickly through the mountains, these boots are an excellent option. But if you are into big expeditions with a larger pack and tend to put your hiking boots through the wringer, you probably want something a bit burlier.

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Aku Rocket Mid GTX ($220)

best hiking boots aku rocket mid studio shot

Weight: 15 oz
Upper Material: Synthetic / Microfiber
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Pros: Speed laces provide a secure 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 its 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 a pleasing fit right out the gate.

And despite all that lightweight comfort, the boot is solidly waterproof with a GORE-TEX lining. We submerged these boots right up to the top of the laces, and our socks still came out dry. 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.

These boots had an incredible fit, and yes, we realize that “fit” is a very subjective metric. But in this case, we think the comfort springs from being just flexible enough 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.

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Danner Mountain 600 ($190)

danner mountain 600 hiking boots

Weight: 18.5 oz
Upper Material: Suede
Lining: Danner Dry
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
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 period, has developed hiking boots that not only work well but look good at the same time. The Mountain 600 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 makes this boot one of the better examples of a rugged day hiker that can also put in plenty of miles on overnights.

The more you wear these boots, the better the fit becomes, and we could really feel the Vibram SPE midsole offering responsive cushioning. The brown leather version 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 comfort is what truly made it stand out. Read our full review of the women’s version here.

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Lems Boulder Summit ($185)

lems boulder summit hiking boots

Weight: 14.8 oz
Upper Material: Oiled leather/nylon
Lining: Proprietary Waterproofing
Outsole: Winter Traction
Pros: Stylish, lightweight, and comfortable, zero-drop sole design
Cons: Waterproof-breathable membrane isn’t GORE-TEX, harder to clean when muddy/dirty

If you want a do-all and go-anywhere boot, then look no further. Lems has created a winner in the Boulder Summit 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, we 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 model that we tested. The boot is also available in brown leather.

The lacing also isn’t super tight, and takes a bit to get a snug fit without loosening up when tying. For that reason, we consider this more of a casual boot than a serious hiking boot for big treks.

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 works well in the mountains or the city, this might be the right boot for you.  Lems Boulder Summits will surprise your fellow hikers when they realize that you can, in fact, look dapper while also getting wild in the mountains.

These are another pair of zero-drop shoes, which proponents claim to be a more natural way to experience the world. Does that translate to a better time on the trail? Ultimately it depends on how one’s foot responds to the ground (and how conditioned your feet are to minimalist shoes).

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La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX ($239)

la sportiva nucleo high hiking boot

Weight: 16.5 oz
Upper Material: Nublock Leather
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Nano Xs-Trek
Pros: Excellent support and traction
Cons: Top half of the boot felt loose

For the price of these boots, you will be hard-pressed to find something that checks so many boxes: lightweight, supportive, waterproof, and comfortable.

The soles had plenty of cushion and felt excellent on the downhill, even with our tester mentioning the uppers felt a bit loose. For someone with a slightly wider foot, this could be the boot of choice on bigger days where lightweight support is essential.

Utilizing both GORE-TEX and La Sportiva’s proprietary Nanocell tech, the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is a remarkably waterproof and breathable boot that was one of the lightest models we tested. For those who have a bit more to spend but don’t want to break the bank, the Nucleo High II GTX could be the ideal boot to cover all the bases.

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La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX ($199)

la sportiva ultra raptor ii hiking boots

Weight: 16.5 oz
Upper Material: Airmesh/Microfiber
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Frixion XF 2.0
Pros: Felt lighter than they are
Cons: Not as supportive at the ankle as other models tested

Although this boot isn’t the lightest model tested, it felt as though it was. That is likely due to the fact that most of the weight seems to be in the sole, where it’s needed most. As such, we found La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor II Mid to be an excellent choice for moving quickly over rough terrain while still babying your feet.

With a GORE-TEX lining and a nylon air mesh upper, the boot handled well in mud and creek crossings. And that thick sole helped the uppers stay above most of the muck anyway.

This boot would suit someone who likes to move fast most of the time but every so often wants to do a few heavy-pack overnights without needing another boot in their quiver. Either way, we found these boots to be comfortable, maneuverable, and capable of withstanding almost everything in their path.

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Lowa Trek Evo Mid GTX ($255)

the lowa trek evo mid gtx hiking boots

Weight: 22 oz
Upper Material: Synthetic fabric
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Rock Trac Sense
Pros: Excellent fit that stayed snug throughout many hikes
Cons: Pricey, if you add a footbed it may feel too tight

Of all the boots we tried, the Trek Evo Mid from Lowa had the best fit, and that is saying a lot. Of course, fit is a subjective category, but we found that the boot seemed to wrap around and mold to the foot in ways that might only happen with other boots after a much, much longer break-in period. These felt great on the first go, which is likely due to the all-synthetic (read: more flexible) makeup of the boots.

Lowa wanted a boot that could be fast and nimble yet also be durable enough to wear a decent-sized pack and take on a multiday challenge if need be. With premium, if pricy, components such as GORE-TEX and Vibram outsoles, this is a great boot that punches well above its weight class. Those worried about the price may be happy to know that the boots can be resoled, thus prolonging their life by a long shot. It was also the only pair of boots that had a stud on the tongue, a feature Lowa calls X-Lacing.

Essentially it works to prevent the laces from loosening from excess movement. It seemed to work pretty well! So if you want a lightweight boot for setting personal bests on uphill and downhill, yet be supportive enough to carry a big pack, this is a fine choice.

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Salomon Quest 4 GTX ($230)

salomon quest 4 gtx hiking boots

Weight: 23.2 oz
Upper Material: Textile/Leather
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Contragrip TD
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. We found the sizing to be the roomiest among all boots tested, so sizing down at least half a size would be a good decision for most users.

Despite the high top coming up above the calf, the Quest 4 GTX was breathable enough not to feel as though the foot would overheat. While the midsole felt springy and responsive, we found the outsole slipped more than other models with similar tread patterns, so we had to dock a few points in the traction department.

If you need a good overnight boot that is responsive and pain-free but you 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.

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Oboz Sawtooth X Mid ($175)

Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Hiking boots

Weight: 15.7 oz
Upper Material: Oiled Nublock Leather/CORDURA fabric mesh
Lining: B-Dry Membrane
Outsole: True Tread Rubber
Pros: Low price point, great support
Cons: Laces can stick when lacing up/loosening

Oboz is based in Bozeman, Montana, where you can’t avoid nature even if you try. The brand is a B-certified corporation, meaning its efforts are recognized for benefitting society as a whole, not just to make shareholders a pile of money. This is all great, but what about making a good product? Thankfully, they also excel here.

Their Sawtooth X Mid is a solid hiking boot that felt great right out of the box, and held up well on the trail. The sole is thick enough to withstand anything you throw against it, and although not GORE-TEX like many in its class, Oboz’s proprietary B-Dry lining held up well throughout the testing process. The only issue was that the Sawtooth X Mid is a bit more difficult to lace up than other boots we tested. However, once tight, the laces stayed that way throughout the day without worry.

At one of the lowest price points on the list, these boots have incredible value and are a great option for someone who wants to vote with their wallet to help good companies do good things with their money while also getting a solid hiking boot that can handle a heavy pack.

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VivoBarefoot Tracker II FG ($240)

the tracker ii fg hiking boots

Weight: 20.3 oz
Upper Material: Leather
Lining: Recycled plastic
Outsole: Rubber
Pros: Easy to put on/take off, great natural feel, zero-drop
Cons: No midsole makes carrying a heavy pack difficult

VivoBarefoot designers nailed the minimalist hiking boot class with the Tracker II FG. The boots have excellent comfort thanks to their full leather upper and an outsole that has just enough protection from sharp or abrasive objects yet is thin enough to feel the varied ground underneath. Traction is great (although not extreme), and the waterproofing works well in both muddy slop and in crossing streams.

Barefoot boots aren’t for everyone, and they certainly don’t provide the support that a boot with a thick midsole offers, so we wouldn’t be doing any huge treks in this unless you’ve been doing massive calf exercises to prepare. But maybe that’s your style, anyway.

Still, for day hikes or when traveling with a light pack, these boots help your body feel the ground underneath yet still have decent support on the ankle and lower calf.

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Timberland Greenstride Motion 6 Mid ($160)

a product photo of the Timberland Greenstride Motion 6 hiking boots

Weight:  22.8 oz
Upper Material: Leather/fabric
Lining: ReBOTL recycled plastic
Outsole: EVA blend using 65% bio-based materials
Pros: Over 50% sustainable materials throughout, super comfortable
Cons: Not very breathable

Timberland is known for quality and style, and its new release checks both those boxes, with a bonus. The Greenstride is aptly named due to the efforts Timberland’s efforts to create a boot using more sustainable materials. While not exactly perfect, it’s certainly a “stride” in the right direction. With comfort being the main draw here, they also perform well on the trail.

The biggest downside we found was that, while waterproof, the breathability is not up to GORE-TEX levels, and you could feel the moisture starting to pile up on longer hikes. As such, it might not be the best boot for hot summer days.

The lugs underneath have plenty of tread but don’t have any special patterns to channel water and mud as in most other specialized hiking boots. We didn’t find ourselves slipping excessively, but the pattern didn’t exactly make for extra efficiency in the mud.

These boots fit noticeably larger than many others we tested, even compared to other Timberland models. We recommend sizing down a half size or so for a better fit.

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Comparison Table

Model Price Weight Outsole Upper waterproofing
Lowa Renegade Mid GTX $255 19.5 oz Vibram Norwalk leather GORE-TEX
Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX $319 21 oz Vibram Biometric/ XS Trek suede and nylon GORE-TEX
Merrell Moab 3 Mid $150 17 oz Vibram TC5+ pigskin/mesh waterproof membrane
La Sportiva X Hike Mid GTX $189 14.2 oz. Vibram Ecostep EVO Recycled air mesh and no-sew upper, nylon webbing, welded TPU overlays GORE-TEX
Zamberlan Tofane NW GTX RR $495 29.5 oz Zamberlan Vibram NorWalk Full-grain waxed Tuscan leather GORE-TEX, waxed leather
Xero Shoes Ridgeway $140 13 oz Feeltrue Rubber suede/polyester 3L Construction with Hydroguard 50 membrane
Merrell Thermo Rogue 4 GTX $260 20 oz Vibram Arctic Grip ballistic nylon, TPU GORE-TEX
Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR $295 15.7 oz Vibram Pepe Megagrip Suede leather GORE-TEX
Aku Rocket Mid GTX $185 15 oz Vibram Megagrip Synthetic fabric/microfiber GORE-TEX
Danner Mountain 600  $190 18.5 oz Vibram Megagrip suede leather Danner Dry
Lems Boulder Summit $185 14.8 oz Winter Traction Outsole oiled leather/nylon proprietary
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX $239 16.5 oz Vibram Nano XS-Trek nublock leather GORE-TEX
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II GTX $199 16.5 oz FriXion XF 2.0 air mesh/microfiber GORE-TEX
Lowa Trek Evo Mid GTX $255 22 oz Vibram Rock Track synthetic GORE-TEX
Salomon Quest 4 GTX $230 23.2 oz Contragrip TD leather/textile GORE-TEX
Oboz Sawtooth X Mid  $175 15.7 oz True Tread Rubber oiled nublock leather B-Dry
VivoBarefoot Tracker II FG $240 20.3 oz rubber leather leather, DWR
Timberland Greenstride Motion 6 Mid $160 22.8 oz ReBOTL Recycled plastic leather/fabric TimberDry

hiking the chief while testing for the best hiking boots


How We Tested The Best Hiking Boots

Testing out hiking boots requires a lot of — you guessed it — hiking. But it’s not that simple. We went on hikes of all shapes and sizes, from one-hour jaunts to multi-day, overnight treks out in the wilderness. Since hiking boots often have a break-in period, we aimed to put in as many miles as we could on each pair of boots until they felt as though they were properly broken in.

With such a wide range of boots to test, it made sense to save the heavier boots for the bigger excursions and the lighter ones for the sessions without a pack. When possible, we would take several pairs so that we could compare them as closely as possible.

Waterproofing was also tested, making sure we submerged each pair for at least a minute to see whether they were indeed waterproof. Thankfully, every pair listed here passed that test, with dry socks underneath and, for the most part, no water coming in through the top when the boots were properly done up.

Speaking of doing up boots, lacing up was a key factor in the ratings, mostly fitting in the comfort and support scores. Here are the performance metrics we looked at.

Durability: How well do the boots hold up after logging miles all summer? Do they show signs of wear or look/feel great after putting them throught the ringer?

Support: Do the boots feel stable in uneven terrain and with a pack? Note: we gave some leeway with lighter boots when holding a heavy pack since they are not intended for massive overnight treks.

Traction: Can the boots stay put on wet rocks, roots, and through mud?

Comfort: Are the feet and ankles happy throughout the hike, or does soreness creep in the more miles you log? Note: Some of the boots require a longer break-in period, and we did our best to factor this in, as long as they did eventually break in after 20 or so miles underfoot.

Style: Yes, style points do matter, although we tried not to let this be a major determining factor compared to other criteria.

For the terrain, we compared the boots in a variety of environments, from the coastal granite of the PNW to the dusty inland trails of the Sawtooth mountains, making sure the traction held up. All weather conditions were important, of course, so these boots have been in mud, rain, and blistering heat. Then we did it over and over again to see how the boots held up after continued abuse. If it wasn’t up to snuff, it didn’t make this list, and there were plenty that didn’t get a recommendation.

Brand names don’t matter, either. This is as objective as we could make it, absent of hiking with a blindfold.

testing the merrell thermo rogue 4 gtx hiking boots in the forest

The Thermo Rogue 4 GTX hiking boots by Merrell were our top pick to keep your feet warm during the winter months.  Photo: Steve Andrew/The Inertia


Hiking Boots Buyer’s Guide

Hiking boots are a broad category, so knowing your needs and understanding which hiking boot performance factors best match those needs will go a long way toward helping you make an informed decision.

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 so 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 painful. On the other side, make sure your heel doesn’t lift when on the ascent or your day will end with massive blisters.

Hiking boots should be half a size to a full size larger than your regular shoe size to accommodate thicker hiking socks and foot swelling during long hikes. Keep in mind that some boots, especially those made of leather, require a break-in period before they become comfortable.

Material

Materials can largely determine the boot’s durability, breathability, and water resistance. Full-grain leather offers excellent durability and abrasion resistance but is usually less breathable. Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are lightweight, breathable, and break in quickly but are less durable. Some materials, like suede, can be more challenging to take care of.

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 membranes are the gold standard for the right combination of waterproofing and breathability, and it’s hard to find anything that matches them.

The Zamberlan Salathe RR GTX submerged in a puddle of water

Don’t forget to test the waterproofing! The Zamberlan Salathe GTX RR and their Hydrobloc aced it. Photo: Steve Andrew/The Inertia

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. However, breathability and waterproofing tend to work at cross purposes from each other.

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.

The treads on the bottom of hiking boots are called lugs. Deeper and more widely spaced lugs are ideal for muddy and uneven terrain. Shallower and closely spaced lugs are better for hard-packed terrain.

The rubber compound of the outsole affects grip and durability. Softer compounds offer better grip but wear out faster, while harder compounds are more durable but less grippy. Vibram has been a leader in this space for over 80 years, and as far as outsoles go, it 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.  Also, look for extra reinforcement around the toe and heel, the common wear-out points. This will help extend the lifespan of the boot, especially if you’re hard on your gear.

Comfort and Support

Look for adequate padding in the collar and tongue for added comfort and to prevent chafing. High-top boots provide more ankle support, which is crucial for rough terrain or carrying heavier loads. Consider the boot’s arch support, especially if you have specific foot conditions like flat feet or high arches.

The midsole, which provides cushioning and shock absorption, can be made of EVA (lighter and softer) or polyurethane (firmer and more durable). Consider the stiffness of the midsole based on the type of terrain you’ll be hiking. A stiffer midsole offers more support on uneven terrain.

Just a few of the boots we tested out for our best hiking boots review

Testing a few boots at a time to make the comparison as objective and straightforward as possible. Photo: Steve Andrew/The Inertia

Closure System

Look for a secure and easy-to-adjust lacing system. Some boots have hooks or eyelets at the top for a snug fit around the ankle.

Additional Features

A rubber toe cap can protect your toes from rocks and roots. If you plan to hike in snow or loose debris, check if the boots are compatible with gaiters. For environmentally conscious hikers, look for boots made with sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing practices.

Maintenance and Care

To keep your hiking boots in top condition, clean them after each hike. Use a brush to remove dirt and mud, and rinse them with water if necessary. Avoid exposing them to direct heat when drying; instead, let them air dry naturally.

If the boots have a removable insole, take it out to dry separately. For leather boots, apply a conditioner or leather treatment periodically to keep the leather soft and prevent it from drying out and cracking. This will also help maintain the boot’s water resistance. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of conditioner to use.


Final Thoughts

While it’s important to stick to your budget, investing in a quality pair of hiking boots can save you money in the long run. Cheaper boots may wear out faster and need to be replaced more often, while a well-made pair can last for many seasons with proper care.

Ultimately, the best hiking boot for you is the one that fits well, meets your needs for the type of hiking you do, and feels comfortable on your feet. Take the time to try on different styles and brands, and don’t be afraid to invest in your comfort and safety on the trail.

a hiker climbs a rock in the sawtooth mountains of idaho while testing hiking boots

Scarpa’s Kailash Trek GTX handled the rigid terrain of Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains without any fuss. Photo: Lindsay Gough/The Inertia


Hiking Accessories

If you just go out on a hike wearing nothing but boots, you might get a few awkward glances. Not only that, but your precious skin might succumb to the elements, and things might get a bit uncomfortable. There is no shortage of quality accessories you can buy to accompany a good hike, but here are a few of our favorites to keep the rest of your body happy for the duration of a hike.

Poles: TSL Connect ($135)

TSL carbon connect trekking poles for our review of the best hiking accessories.

Trekking poles will help keep you upright on uneven terrain, especially with a heavy pack. But it’s not something you need all the time, so carrying poles may end up being a burden. But with the Connect Carbon poles from TSL, you can easily fold them up and stow them away when not in use.

Weighing only one pound for the pair, You won’t notice them when stowed away but will be happy when pulling them out to help extend your time out on the trail. These poles also cross over to winter, allowing you to use them when ski touring, split boarding, or snowshoeing as well.

Check Price on Amazon

Rain Gear: The Orange Jacket by Houdini ($300)

the orange jacket by houdini for our best hiking accessories review.

Spending enough time out on the trails will inevitably lead to some bad weather once in a while. But packing extra rain gear can be a burden, especially if it only rains once in a while. With The Orange Jacket by Houdini, it’s so light and packable you won’t regret packing it and taking it out when needed.

It’s named so because when packed, it’s roughly the size of an orange, but it gives full waterproof protection to keep you from getting soaked. It’s one of those things where you’ll be happy you have it when you need it the most.

Check Price on Houdini

Shirt: Kuhl AirKuhl Hoody ($79)

the airkuhl hoody is a lighweight shirt that offers sun protection while hiking.

No matter the season, we can almost guarantee that you’ll sweat on a hike. But a wet shirt can easily ruin one’s day. So it’s important to have a good shirt that can wick moisture when your body needs to cool off. The AirKuhl hoody does its job quite well, while also being comfortable to the touch even with a pack on.

The shirt also boasts UPF 50+ sun protection, so you can wear it midday to keep harmful UV rays out while still allowing for good ventilation throughout the hike. It’s our choice for great sun protection and moisture wicking while also feeling comfortable and looking great.

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Shorts: Jack Wolfskin Prelight Shorts ($70)

The Jack Wolfskin Prelight shorts are a great addition to hiking with moisture wicking breathability and lightweight material.

When spending long days on the trail, every ounce counts, and any extra weight means more fatigue in the long run. Lightweight clothing can make a huge difference. The Prelight Shorts by Jack Wolfskin were like wearing nothing at all, without the embarrassment.

With deep zipper pockets to keep some snacks and your phone at hand, the shorts are a dry-wicking, smooth-feeling Bluesign-approved material that’s incredibly comfortable. It was our top choice for big days out without feeling any extra holdups.

Check Price on Jack Wolfskin

Pants: LIVSN Ecotrek Trail Pants ($119)

livsn ecotrek trail pants

To have a pair of pants that is lightweight, breathable, yet super durable sounds too good to be true. But the Ecotrek Trail Pants from LIVSN do not only that but are also made from 75% ocean waste, primarily coming from old buoys.

After hiking around in these for the past few months, the verdict is that they really do hold their own. They are breathable enough not to be a sweatbox but durable enough to take a few falls. Plus, they are good for much more than hiking — really any good outdoor adventure from biking to climbing and more, yet are stylish enough to wear out on a date. Plus, you’d probably score points with said imaginary date if you could discuss how wearing these pants helps put ocean flotsam to better use.

Check Price on Backcountry

Check Price on LIVSN

Insoles: SOLE ($59)

sole active medium footbeds for hiking boots accessories

Extra support under the foot goes a long way to add extra miles to any hike. While the boots listed are all great in support and comfort, we found these heat-moldable footbeds by SOLE to go an extra step further in helping us stay on our feet longer, especially with a heavy pack.

Using eco-friendly cork-based material, these footbeds help keep the foot in place, which can help prevent worrisome injuries from consistent pressure underneath. A few miles on the trail was all we needed to notice, a huge difference in both comfort and support. It’s especially true for those over 30 when tissue is not as resilient as in younger bodies.

Check Price on REI

Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: We’ve also tested a wide range of hiking shoes, which are worth checking out for casual day hikes up to longer, ultralight backpack missions. If you are looking for something even more breezy, try our guide to the best hiking sandals. We’ve also taken a look at women’s-specific hikers in our Best Hiking Boots for Women, and Best Hiking Shoes for Women articles. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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