There’s nothing simpler, gear-wise, than going for a walk in the woods — but finding the best hiking boots for men (or the best hiking shoes for men) can mean the difference between going the distance or ending your expedition battling blisters and sore feet.
Not only is hiking a great full-body workout, but it helps your mental wellbeing as well. Researchers at Stanford found that time spent among trees, rocks, hills, and valleys can reduce stress and anxiety, and lower your risk for depression. In short, spending 90 minutes in nature makes you feel better.
But if you plan on seriously tackling the great outdoors, you need the right gear. 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 and an experienced hiker herself.
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.
No matter which way you go, great fit is critical. 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.
The Best Hiking Boots for Men
Hoka has endured decades of scorn for its footwear's appearance, but it's remained as long because slipping them on makes you a true believer. A huge slab of EVA foam in the midsole makes punishing descents and sharp rocks a thing of the past, allowing the hiker to float through the most challenging and technical sections. While the foam protects, the Vibram outsole grips and grabs. Under its durable leather upper resides a waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex membrane for all-condition performance.
While ON may seem like just another running-shoe interloper in the hiking space, its hikers are turning a few heads thanks to a well-designed application of its proprietary cushioning system. Super lightweight, there's still a lot of protection thanks to its hollow tube-like structures underfoot. Up top, membrane-protected mesh allows a ton of breathability while still offering moisture coverage. It may feel a little ungainly on concrete, but get it off-road and watch the Cloudrock fly.
If you're venturing out in iffy weather, over unpredictable terrain, these boots will keep your feet dry and comfortable. The 2mm leather uppers with GORE-TEX membranes keep things waterproof and breathable. The rubber toes and heel bumpers give you extra durability. And the outsole has serious traction. They boots also have a padded collar and tongue that offer additional comfort for long day hikes.
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. If you plan on mountainous hikes, get these Keen boots. The lugs on these boots give you near-perfect traction.
You get extra shock absorption and stability in the heel thanks to this hiking boot's air cushioning. 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.
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’re sitting around the campfire. The rugged outer sole will keep your feet safe when you are hiking, regardless the terrain, while the waterproof Nubuck leather will keep your toes dry. A hefty toecap and heel counter provide extra protection when needed.
These old-school day hikers are incredibly comfortable and both hold up on the trail and look sharp around town, with a full-grain leather and breathable mesh upper. Lightweight and waterproof, they've also got VertiGrip lugged, rubber outsoles for superb traction.
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. 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.
Ideal for day hikes and short-haul weekend pack trips, this is a classic boot that combines versatility with comfort. They 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. Designed for carrying packs under 25 pounds, these aren't the boots for longer hauls or extended backpacking trips.
The Best Hiking Shoes for Men
If you plan on tackling various terrains during your hike, these shoes make the cut. They have a waterproof DryVent membrane so you can wade through mud, a durable ultrATAC outsole, and a robust toe cap for to protect your feet. The shoes also have an integrated ghillie lacing system that helps lock down the foot for a stable fit. The interior OrthoLite Hybrid footbed cools your feet, and the rubber outsole offers solid grip on any terrain.
This is the updated version of the beloved Moab hiking shoe, this time with a breathable, athletic mesh upper. It's one badass shoe, in one badass package. There's an impermeable membrane that seals out water and lets moisture escape. You get a traditional lace closure, a bellows tongue to keep rocks out, a breathable mesh lining, and an insole that contours to your foot.
Unlike others on this list, Forsake's lightweight hiker is a shoe we wouldn't mind wearing straight to the pub. While it feels like a sneaker, there are a ton of technical features, including a waterproof-breathable internal membrane, a gusseted tongue to keep out debris and water, and a pebbled Vibram outsole that's not so aggressive that it's uncomfortable walking around town. While there are other more extreme hikers on this list, Forsake just might be the coolest.
These Adidas shoes provide an outstanding grip especially well-suited for wet and rocky conditions. They're lightweight, but provide ample cushioning. You also get lug soles and a rubber outsole to give you solid grip, so no slipping and sliding.
This is a high performance, trail running shoe for those with narrow feet. 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.
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. 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..
Designed for trail running, this ultra-cushioned shoe is great on the road or in the woods. Touted for precise and dependable contact with the trail, these are solid all-conditions running shoes that double as light hikers — breathable, snug, and tough.
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