When walking the trail, the best hiking boots protect your feet and offer improved performance. It used to be the case that these types of boots were heavy and cumbersome on your feet where they wear you out on long walks just wearing them. Thankfully, the best rated hiking boots are now made from lighter materials like Gore-Tex fabrics and synthetic soles that remove much of the weight while still providing sure footing on long treks across varied ground.
We look at the top ten hiking boots, including the best lightweight hiking boots and sturdy waterproof pairs too. Whatever your needs, we have you covered. The weight does become a factor depending on the type of walking you’ll be doing. The best waterproof hiking boots are useful to handle changeable weather conditions keeping your feet dry but are usually heavier. However, lighter boots are good for day trekking. The mid-weight boots handle longer backpacking trips over multiple days and with the heavier boots in the line-up, these are intended for the roughest terrain possible and multi-day trips with few breaks.
1.Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX
The Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX is a mid-weight waterproof boot for serious hiking trips. The boot is an excellent one for day hiking and backpacking that’s not too strenuous. The mid-weight at 2 pounds 13 ounces, is acolorful footwear that strikes a good balance of sturdiness and ruggedness too.The Quest 4D comes in a choice of 8 colors. They’re each provide an interesting choice, but hedge towards darker shades to not stand out too much. The mesh at the top of the foot strikes a different shade than the rest of the boot and the laces blend the colors together nicely.
The boot itself uses leather and texture fabrics like Gore-Tex weatherproof protection to make the boot breathable and free from dampness in rainy conditions. shoe shaft rising 6-inches from the foot arch. The sole is synthetic. There’s a hard rubber toe cap that helps to avoid injury when stubbing the toe on something during a hike.
The fit is a little slimmer than some other boots, so people with wider feet than normal should take note. The Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX is perhaps the best hiking boots for men who don’t require a heavy-duty boot but want something sturdy enough for 1-2 days of continued use.
2. Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX
The Lowa Renegade unlike the name sounds is actually a typical-looking hiking boot. It’s a few ounces lighter than the previously reviewed Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX at 2 pounds 7 ounces.The boot is waterproof and made from leather so it gives a sturdy feel when planting your feet on unsteady ground. The leather upper is thin, so it isn’t as warm as some other boots. The frame of this model is polyurethane which provides some robustness when walking or trekking over uneven surfaces.
Where the Renegade lets the side down is with durability. The materials and build quality often mean that for serious hikers, they’ll need a new pair on an annual basis. The lighter materials it turns out just don’t withstand continued use. However, for occasional trekkers and backpackers, this pair offers a lighter feel while offering secure footed walking for their occasional jaunts over varied landscape. It’s all a trade-off.Despite being designed primarily for men, the lighter weight of this boot and the myriad of color choices make it a contender as one of the best hiking boots for women.
3. Merrell Men’s Moab 2 WP
The Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof boot is made in four earthy colors (Granite, Earth, Dusty Oliver and Beluga). It uses leather combined with waterproof mesh for the upper. The outsole is made from Vibram TC5, aresponsive compound designed to deliver durability and traction over varied terrain.The Merrill air cushion provides greater support for better comfort over long stretches of walking. EVA support is also used to help with stability too. For day hikes and backpackers who aren’t carrying much, the Moab 2 is a workmanlike hiking boot in the budget category.
The waterproofing is provided via a membrane (there is another model that uses more expensive Gore-Tex). The Moab 2 version is new for 2017. The latest changes include an adjusted arch level that’s higher along with a new insole and the cushioning is more comfortable. The upper has been upgraded to suede and offers greater waterproofing than the earlier model. Despite the changes, the level of foot support is not as good as some other boot models.
4. Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX
The Solomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX is a streamlined, light hiking boot that tries to strike the balance of usability and weight. The hiking boot uses speed-hooks and laces to adjust the fit quickly. The arch rises 5-inches above the shaft at the highest point for good support.The boot is made from a combination of leather and mesh textile providing breathability and some waterproofing. Gore-Tex is used in the lining to protect the shoe when walking through shallow lakes. The tongue sits high and is gusseted to shield it from twigs and leaves entering the boot while trekking in the woods. The sole is made from rubber.
The thinner sole and lower sides offer less support for the ankle. Heavy terrain is not the friend of this boot which is light but lacks durability for heavy action. It is certainly still better than wearing a sneaker brand, but its use is limited for trekking beyond light day use over easy terrain. It is not one of the best hiking boots, but at only 2 pounds its lightness alone is a big selling point which explains its continued popularity.
5. Scarpa Men’s R-evolution Gtx
The Scarpa Men’s R-evolution Gtx boot comes with a high arch at 7-inches and a protruding tongue that’s even taller still. The boot uses a Vibram outer sole that offers great traction and durability. A TPU toecap protects from falling objects on the big toe.The inner sole is rubber and the use of Gore-Tex insulates the boot from water penetrating it. The upper is made from a combination of leather and a textured mesh which offers heat management and comfort. A sock-fit approach to the interior feels snug when sliding the foot inside.
The weight at 2 pounds 14 ounces is as heavy as the Quest 4D. The tongue is stretchy and is filled with memory foam to mold better around the front of the leg. The boot is sturdy and durable. It’ll handle all but the most heavy-duty trekking. The suede upper offers weather protection and the Vibram outer sole won’t let you down. The only letdown is the laces which aren’t up to the standard of the rest of the boot.
6. Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX
The Arc’Teryx Men’s Bora2 is a mid-weight hiking boot that has a synthetic design, but uses removable inner liners that offer multi-day use and wash-ability too.The stretchy Gore-Tex is a nylon mesh made in two layers that is virtually seamless and uses its adhesiveness to stick this membrane inside the boot without difficulty. Moisture is absorbed easily and without making the foot damp during hiking trips. A better insulated liner is available after-market to fit inside this boot to make it warmer in winter conditions too.
The boot weighs 2 pounds 11.7 ounces which puts it in the mid-weight category. It’s waterproofing from Gore-Tex is excellent. The footwear is robust enough for the hardiest of terrain which makes this product excellent for difficult trekking. For basic backpacking and light use, this boot is unnecessary.
7. Vasque St. Elias GTX
The Vasque Men’s St. Elias boot is made for backpackers who don’t need all the bells and whistles. It has a synthetic sole, a heel that rises to 1.75-inches and a shaft that goes up 6-inches from the arch. The sole has a 0.75-inch raise above the ground for some clearance when walking through shallow lakes.The main upper material is leather. The boot is only sold in either slate brown or gray color choices unlike other products that offer 5-15 mixed color options.
At 3 pounds 1 ounce, this is one of the heavier boots in our reviewed range. EVA is used in the mid-sole area to give the boot some greater strength. Gore-Tex is utilized for primary weatherproofing. The leather upper doesn’t include mesh which may enhance the weatherproof ability.The eyelets and laces don’t seem too robust to us and likely the laces will require replacements. Otherwise, waterproofing and ankle support are solid here.
8. KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid
The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP is a hiking boot that features a rubber sole, and a leather and texture upper. There is a leather lining internally which offers some waterproofing there. The shoe size is up to half a size smaller than its suggested size selection, so pick a boot that’s larger than your usual size for a good fit.There’s a pull affixed to the heel to help with sliding the boot over your foot. The collar and tongue are both nicely padded for comfort. Ghillie laces are used for easier lace up and adjustments.
At 2 pounds 3 ounces the boot is in the mid to heavy category. It is not as stable as one would prefer, but it’s certainly good enough for basic backpacking and hiking over easy terrain for a day or so. The ankle support and stability when walking isn’t up to the standards of the Salomon Quest, but it has enough grip and it’s not as expensive. You get what you pay for here.
9. Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
The Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer is a mid-weight boot made from leather and synthetic materials. The sole is synthetic. There is a special system used to provide better heel and ankle support. The heel area features a foam padding that molds to the shape of wearer’s heel.
There are layers in the interior that allow for better molding to the foot shape. Lacing up goes higher up the foot too which creates a customized feelthat goes to new levels of comfort. The intention is mountain walking with zero blisters.
Waterproofing is provided using Gore-Tex fabric. The shoe does get warm during use so it’s not so good in hotter climates. It is also a bit stiff during wear in order to provide the exterior robustness to handle mountain ranges.
10. La Sportiva Men’s Core High GTX
The La Sportiva Men’s Core High GTX boot is aimed at walking and hiking up formidable trails. The boot is made from all synthetic fabrics and materials. It stays light by using the Vibran Nano sole with improved grip during inclines and declines alike.Gore-Tex is used for waterproofing. AirMesh fabrics wick moisture away through the Nano-Cell structure. This helps to keep moisture out and the feet dry to avoid blisters forming.Stability for a trekking boot that weighs under 2 pounds 2 ounces is excellent. It is a bit narrow in design and isn’t as breathable as some other designs that include leather. Nevertheless, this boot is light and has mountaineering support.
Hiking Boot Categories
Lightweight boots are reasonable for walking and trekking for single day excursions. These types of boots aren’t suitable for active multi-day treks over varied and difficult terrain, or mountain trials. They’re essentially sneaker replacements for non-flat ground.
Mid-weight boots, 2 pounds and upwards, strike the balance between being too light for extensive hiking and too heavy to be practical for mid-ranges. A mixture of synthetic and leather materials is commonly used with boots in this category.(After our depth Research we selected our top 2 Salomon Quest 4D 2 and Lowa Renegade are midweight).
Heavy boots weight the most because of their extra materials and support provided. Soles are thicker and more durable, and boot materials focus on strength and standing up to the elements rather than weight. It remains true with boots that the lighter they are, the more likely that they won’t hold up to the punishment of a long trek or mountaineering. Heavy boots should certainly be suitable for all types of terrain.
Most boots are waterproofed using Gore-Tex or a less efficient means. Leather uppers also provide waterproofing features while Gore-Tex in mesh fabrics and inside the boot help to keep moisture out.
Difference Between Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes
Hiking shoes (otherwise known as trail shoes) are gaining in interest among hikers. The idea is that they provide something sturdier than a sneaker shoe with better heel and arch support. Their soles are thicker similar to hiking boots with leather-backed fabrics that maintain lightness while still offering some of the typical benefits from hiking boots. The focus with best hiking shoes is on comfort over sturdiness. As a result, they’re lighter but less stable over rocky terrain.
The build quality of a hiking shoe varies from brand to brand, model to model. It is important to verify the level of arch support, lacing and lace eyes, stitching quality, and overall build to determine whether the shoe will begin to come apart after minimal use. Many hiking shoes won’t stand up to prolonged use or typical use by hikers. They’re essentially better than tearing up a good pair of Nike on the trail, but won’t offer anything like the protection for the feet and the elements that a proper hiking boot will.
Choosing a pair of hiking boots is all about deciding how much boot you really need. When you only do some light trail walking and don’t attempt to climb up rock faces or steep, rocky trails, then a lightweight, inexpensive hiking boot will be all you need like Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 boots.
For avid hikers who put the miles on, want a boot that will last several seasons and handle all kinds of terrain, then a heavy-duty boot is what they’ll need. It’s best to look for a boot with leather uppers and Gore-Tex waterproofing, along with proper heel and ankle support for best results.