There’s nothing simpler, gear-wise, than going for a walk in the woods — but finding the best men’s hiking boots (or hiking shoes) can mean the difference between going the distance or ending your expedition battling blisters.
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.
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
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.
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. This adaptable hiking boot excels on technical climbs and tough descents alike.
This boot features a Techlite lightweight midsole for long-lasting comfort, plus an Omni-Grip rubber sole for traction.You get the best of both worlds with these hiking boots: waterproof full-grain leather-and-suede lightweight construction, plus a breathable mesh tongue. Oh, and they look great, too.
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
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.
This is the shoe to get for training and racing. Plus it's perfect for technical terrains.These hiking shoes have premium wet traction grip, and a chassis that delivers a consistent ride in even the most tough terrain.
These trail hiking shoes are incredibly light, with equally incredible traction. This shoe delivers some of the best traction you can get for the money, and works on both wet and dry surfaces.
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.
From one of the better-known running shoe companies out there, the Peregrine lightweight trail runner that also is a favorite of hikers. 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.
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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