There’s nothing simpler, gear-wise, than going for a walk in the woods — but finding the right pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes is one of the biggest investments you can make in your health and happiness. Which is why you need to find the best hiking boots for you.
Recent studies in Japan and the U.S. have found that even a short hike through wilderness (or a suburban park) can boost your immune system for up to seven days, improve memory function, lower your blood pressure, and decrease cancer risk. So how do you find the best men’s hiking boot, walking boot, hiking shoe, or trail runner? The first step is to take into account the terrain, the weather, and your own feet — will you need the best waterproof hiking boots out there or lightweight trail runners? Are you looking for a walking boot with state-of-the-art traction for steep trails or a hiking shoe with a roomy toe box and comfortable fit? Choose wrong and you’ll end up with aching toes, sore arches, and, worst of all, blisters.
“There are a variety of hiking boots out there designed for a wide array of conditions, and you should tailor your selection to what you think will be needed,” says Alyson Stone, a manager at Neptune Mountaineering.
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If you are going to be hiking somewhere where it rains a lot, a pair of waterproof boots that have a tread designed for muddy trails are essential. But, if you are headed somewhere where you’re going to be fording a ton of streams (such as in Alaska) you will want boots that let the water out, because waterproof boots act as a tub once they fill with water. If you’re setting out in cold weather or you need extra ankle support, look for a larger boot that comes up over the ankle to offer additional protection.
Then there are trail running shoes. They have quickly become the favorite of thru-hikers who routinely spend weeks out on the trail logging high miles. It’s no wonder: Trail running shoes are extremely lightweight while still offering many of the technical advantages of hiking boots. But, Stone cautions, there are some drawbacks: Their minimalist footbed support can lead to aching feet if you are carrying a heavy pack or have a history of arch issues or ankle injuries. And they don’t have a long shelf life.
Once you know what type of boot you want, you can focus on the most important aspect of a great boot: fit. Hiking boots should fit your feet snugly and uniformly, and not have any gaps where your foot is continually rubbing, because that’s how blisters are made. Crucially, plan ahead. Buy your boots at least a month before hitting the trail so you can break them in. Based on the criteria above, here are the ones we recommend.
Best Hiking Shoes for Men and Best Hiking Boots for Men
These trail hiking shoes are incredibly light, with equally incredible traction.
Pros: This shoe delivers some of the best traction you can get for the money, and works on both wet and dry surfaces.
Cons: The sole is a little too stiff for some tastes.
This Keen hiking boot is an all-around solid choice. It has a waterproof breathable membrane to keep your feet dry, an outsole with 4mm lugs for outstanding traction, and a mid-cut height for greater ankle support.
Pros: If you plan on mountainous hikes, get these Keen boots. The lugs on these boots give you near-perfect traction.
Cons: There are reports of the soles coming loose.
These Adidas shoes provide an outstanding grip in wet and rocky conditions.
Pros: These Adidas shoes are lightweight, but provide ample cushioning. They’re especially well-suited for wet and rocky conditions. You also get lug soles and a rubber outsole to give you solid grip, so no slipping and sliding.
Cons: The laces tend to break, so have an extra pair handy.
This adaptable hiking boot excels on technical climbs and tough descents alike.
Pros: This famously durable hiking boot can take you the distance through steep and variable terrain — they’re also incredibly light and comfortable out of the box.
Cons: More water-resistant than fully waterproof, these boots may not be the best choice for wet conditions.
This is a high performance, trail running shoe for those with narrow feet.
Pros: This is a solid all-around trail shoe that’s ideal for steep climbs, long hikes, trail runs, and backcountry treks. The AirMesh fabric keep your feet cool on hot days, controls moisture and prevent blisters. The shoe has Vibram soles, to give you high tread grip. And there’s ankle support, to boot.
Cons: They tend to run really small, so order at least one size up.
Ideal for day hikes and short-haul weekend pack trips, this is a classic boot that combines versatility with comfort.
Pros: These light hiking boots offer excellent traction over all kinds of terrain and great ankle support, plus stellar design from a company that’s been engineering hiking boots for nearly a century.
Cons: Designed for carrying packs under 25 pounds, these aren’t the boots for longer hauls or extended backpacking trips.
From one of the better-known running shoe companies out there, the Peregrine lightweight trail runner that also is a favorite of hikers.
Pros: They are super-comfortable right out of the box, with a soft foot bed that is a treat for your feet. With a snug fit and aggressive tread, they’ll let you tackle the steepest trails. They are fully breathable and dry out quickly if you get them wet.
Cons: They are basically souped-up running shoes and won’t last forever. Good for one or two seasons of use depending on how much you hike.
This is a top-selling and popular barefoot shoe, which gives your feet the ability to engage naturally with the terrain and keeps your feet in a neutral position.
Pros: These barefoot hiking terrain shoes give you a more natural connection with the ground and help place you in a more natural alignment, which can lead to better posture and less strain on your joints.
Cons: These have little too much padding for some hard-core barefoot shoe aficionados.
This boot features a Techlite lightweight midsole for long lasting comfort, plus an Omni-Grip rubber sole for traction.
Pros: You get the best of both worlds with these hiking boots. By that, we mean waterproof full-grain leather and suede lightweight construction, plus a breathable mesh tongue. Oh, and they look great, too.
Cons: They’re not quite as waterproof as advertised, so don’t wear them if you plan on walking through very wet areas.
Designed for trail running, this ultra-cushioned shoe is great on the road or in the woods.
Pros: Touted for precise and dependable contact with the trail, these are solid all-conditions running shoes that double as light hikers — breathable, snug, and resilient.
Cons: Though the toe box is roomy and good on descents, some found the overall fit too narrow.
You get extra shock absorption and stability in the heel thanks to this hiking boot's air cushioning.
Pros: These truly are waterproof, and the traction is almost incomparable. The hiking boot also boasts a contoured footbed with a zonal arch and heel support, as well as a protective rubber toe cap.
Cons: They tend to run small, so order a half-size up.
Known as some of the most comfortable hiking boots out there, these low-cut boots from Obōz will keep you comfortable during a long day on the trail, and when you are sitting around the campfire.
Pros: The rugged outer sole will keep your feet safe when you are hiking, regardless the terrain. Made with waterproof Nubuck leather, these hiking boots will keep your toes dry, yet if you happen to step into a creek they will dry out easily. A hefty toecap and heel counter provide extra protection when needed.
Cons: They are low-cut boots and should be avoided if you have any history of ankle injuries.
A great-looking all leather boot that can withstand the rigors of the trail and still look good when you wear them out to your local watering hole.
Pros: Serious cushioning means that your feet will be well-supported and solid underfoot when on the trail. These are excellent hiking boots for people who pronate or supinate when they walk. Plus it offers comfortable space for your toes to move and breath.
Cons: These tend to run large, so order half a size smaller than usual.
This is the ideal hiking boot for hunters and others who spend long hours in the rugged backcountry. Its leather construction can withstand abuse, and the super-comfy Ortholite footbed means that your feet will be snug as a bug in a rug.
Pros: These hiking boots feature nylon eyelets to ensure that there’s no snagging, which means no tripping on passing brambles and bushes. It has a Vibram sole offering excellent traction, plus a 3F system and flex collar to ensure your foot stays in one spot and does not shift.
Cons: This hiking boot is an update to the brand’s popular Mountain Trainer Mid and this is the first year it is on the market, so it’s something of a new quantity.
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