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Best Hiking Shoes of 2021 (Men's Women's And Kids)
Published: Aug 14, 2020
Hiking shoes are continuously innovating to fit the trend of the market, from big bulky boots to ultra-lightweight and stylish shoes. Whether you're a newbie or professional hiker, it would be great if you know what type of footwear works best for you.
To create this article, we have tested 45 pairs in terms of weight, support, durability, comfort, versatility, traction, water resistance, and value to give you the three best choices for men, women, and kids. We've also picked out the best waterproof and lightweight hiking shoes for those of you who want to skip the other shoes.
Plus, we've summarized the factors that you have to consider if you're planning to buy the best hiking shoes. We differentiated sneakers, hiking boots, and hiking shoes so that you'll have an idea of what footwear works and what doesn't work.
Best Hiking Shoes: Our Quick Answer
- Best Overall Hiking Shoes: Salomon Men's X Ultra 3 Wide GTX Hiking
- Best Hiking Shoes for Kids: Merrell Chameleon 7 A/C Mid
- Best Hiking Shoes for Women: Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX - Women's
- Best Hiking Shoes for Men: ALTRA Men's Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes
- Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes: HOKA ONE ONE Women's TOA Gore-Tex Waterproof Boots
- Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes: Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX
Best Overall Hiking Shoes
1. Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Wide GTX Hiking
Out of all the hiking shoes we’ve tested, we came up with a unanimous decision of awarding the best overall hiking shoes to the Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Wide GTX. We were very much impressed with how versatile these shoes are both in off-trail and on-trail adventures.
What We Like
Every hiker’s priority is to have comfortable shoes, and the Salomon Ultra 3 Wide GTX does not disappoint in this category. The Advanced Chassis is surrounded by foam cushions that fit tightly in the sides and directly to the sole, which gives a secure comfort even if we trekked for miles on rocky trails.
Salomon is well-known for the athletic feel of their hiking shoes, and the Ultra 3 Wide GTX is no exception. For a pair of size 11 men’s shoes, the weight was around 1 lb and 15 ounces, which is lighter compared to its competitors. We’ve tried lighter models from other brands, but there’s a significant difference in durability when we did an off-trail hike.
Speaking of durability, we used this Salomon hiking shoes in at least 8 5 day-trip trekking, and there’s no notable wear and tear on the shoes. Breathability-wise, the company uses a Gore-Tex membrane which is not bad, but not a standout either. We’ve used these shoes in over 60 degrees Fahrenheit and below freezing terrains and we had minimal to no issues at all.
In terms of waterproof, the Gore-Tex is reliable enough for you to use it during light to moderate rain, stream crossing, and snow. Although, you need to be mindful when crossing high streams since the shoe has a lower ankle height which means there’s a chance of water pouring in.
The shoe has excellent, well-rounded tread which provides great traction when climbing terrains and descending on rockslides. It has arrow-like lugs that work great in rocky and muddy terrains. The Quicklace system also comes in handy because you just have to pull the buckle to tighten the laces.
There’s also enough protective rubber in front of the foot for toe protection. I experienced some hard impacts on sharp rocks and I barely felt anything. Unlike hiking boots, there’s not much ankle protection. The Ultra 3 Wide GTX has ample cushioning on the ankles that are good enough for most hikers, but if you’re an avid off-trail hiker, we recommend that you look for a hiking boot that has better ankle protection.
What We Don’t Like
Some of our hikers had a bad experience with the Quicklace system because the laces kept on getting loose and they had to tighten it always. The Kevlar laces may also cause some problem in the future since it’s a bit thin.
Overall, the Salomon Ultra 3 Wide GTX is high-quality, lightweight, waterproof, durable, and an all-around hiking shoes. The price may be a little high compared to its competitors, but we assure you that every penny is worth it.
Best Hiking Shoes for Kids
2. Merrell Chameleon 7 A/C Mid
We’ve chosen the Merrell Chameleon 7 A/C Mid as one of the best kids hiking shoes because of its lightweight, waterproof, easy to tighten, has high ankle protection, and most kids like the available colors.
What we like about the Chameleon 7 Mid is it’s 100% synthetic and made with leather. The upper portion of the shoes is composed of leather and mesh which is why the shoes are lightweight and breathable for your kids’ feet. It also provides protection when you’re hiking on a rocky terrain.
Merrell has made the shoes waterproof with its M-Select Dry Waterproof Membrane, so you don’t have to worry about getting your kid’s feet wet when you’re on a muddy area or when crossing a stream. The upper suede keeps the shoes breathable to ensure that the feet won’t sweat during summer hikes.
We all know that kids may sometimes be clumsy and can easily sprain their ankles; the Chameleon 7 Mid has a high rise lightly padded collar to provide extra ankle support for these cases. In addition to this, the outer has a lug pattern and rubber cup sole for superior traction on different trails.
Lastly, it’s equipped with traditional laces and a bungee lacing, hook-and-loop strap closure to fasten the laces tightly easily. This lacing strap is especially helpful for small kids who are still growing.
There’s nothing that we don’t like about the Merrell Chameleon 7 A/C Mid. Parents who bought the shoes had difficulty in finding the fit for their kids, but the majority of the buyers from Amazon thinks that the shoes fit true to the size mentioned.
3. Teva Kid’s Arrowood 2 Mid WP Hiking Shoes
The Teva Kid’s Arrowood 2 is one of the ultra-lightweight, has superior waterproof membrane, and thick sole to provide comfort and support. If your priority is traction and durability, this product should be at the top of your best kids hiking shoe list.
What we like about the Teva Arrowood 2 is it’s made with 100% textile and leather. The upper portion is PU-coated leather that seals out any water that may come in and the mesh helps keep the feet cool during the hike and keep it in the ultra-lightweight category.
Whether you’re crossing a stream or hiking while raining, you don’t have to worry about getting your kid’s feet wet because it has a waterproof membrane that’s superior to other models at this price range.
The shoe has an urban-style to it which is why you can easily use it as a hiking boot or a stylish sneaker at the same time. It has rubber outsoles that provide terrific traction in whatever terrain you might hike in. We can say that these shoes are built for technical and tough terrain.
Another feature that we like is the bungee-cord lacing system. With this type of lace, it’ll be easy for your kids to put in and take out the shoes. You’ll notice that the sole is thick enough to protect the toes during descent and provide comfort.
What we don’t like about the Teva Kid’s Arrowood 2 is that it’s a bit narrow which can make it difficult for other kids to fit. Another thing that we’ve noticed is that the waterproof feature is too good that it can’t be breathable for the feet.
4. Merrell Trail Chaser Hiking Shoe
We’ve got another Merrell product as one of the best kids hiking shoes, and it’s the Trail Chaser edition. It’s made with 100% mesh/suede leather which is why the shoes are breathable, lightweight, and offer practical waterproof.
What we like about the Trail Chaser is that it’s ultra-lightweight. The upper mesh is breathable and the suede provides the durability for the shoe. Both of these materials help make the shoe waterproof and sturdy during wet weather.
The M Select GRIP on the outsole is an excellent addition by Merrell. This feature ensures that superior nonmarking traction and a slip-and-trip resistant shoe. They also added a removal EVA footbed that has enough cushion to provide comfort during long day hikes.
The shoes have an easy hook and loop closure to give a secure fit that’s easy for kids to slip in and off. This feature becomes very useful when your kid is getting ready to go into and out of the tent because it’s quick to use.
What we don’t like about the Trail Chaser is the low-quality hook and loop closure. After a few hikes, we noticed that this part of the shoe could be ripped off, so it’s better if you inform your kid to take care of this closure.
Overall, the Merrell Trail Chaser kids hiking shoes is one of the best in the market within its price range. It’s durable, stable, lightweight, waterproof, and stylish that is great for kid hikers. You just have to make sure to take care of the closure so that your kid can use this for years.
Best Hiking Shoes for Women
5. Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX - Women’s
Like its counterpart, the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX for women are anatomically designed to support and comfort women’s feet. If you’re looking for lightweight and waterproof hiking ladies hiking shoes that have excellent traction and durable, this pair should be at the top of your list of best hiking shoes.
What we like about the X Ultra 3 GTX is that Salomon specifically designed it for women’s feet. There are two different types of rubber on the sole of the shoes creating a tighter grip that can be helpful during technical descents.
The heel was created with striking patterns to grab the terrain better to give you more control while you’re moving. These rubbers and patterns have outstanding cushioning to minimize fatigue and maximize stability.
The shoes are made with 100% synthetic, making it lightweight and ideal if you plan to cover lots of miles within a day. While this provides water resistance to your feet, when soaked, the shoes may become heavy.
The insole has paddings, but not quite like the ones in the sole and heel. Though it still provides comfort while on the hike, we recommend that you use a slightly padded hiking socks for maximum comfort.
We tried the size 7 shoes and it weighed around 1.5 pounds. It’s not the lightest hiking shoe in our test, but it’s lightweight enough for you not to feel exhausted when using it. Durability-wise, the front toe has a protective cap that protects the shoe from any wear and tear, even on rocky terrains.
What we don’t like about the Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 GTX is the Quicklace system. We maxed out our camping backpack to 45 lbs and it didn’t provide the much-needed support from a hiking shoe. It also can be a little hard to fine-tune since all the laces tighten all at once which is impossible for you to loosen a specific section if needed.
We also prefer hiking shoes that have all-around cushioning, especially if we’re on rocky terrain. It’s also quite expensive, so you have to make sure first that it’s the right shoes for you. Other than those we’ve mentioned, the women’s X Ultra 3 GTX is superb. You can use it in almost every terrain possible.
6. Merrel Women’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
Merrel has been one of the favorite brands of hikers and us alike. The shoes are durable, comfortable, and somewhat affordable compared to other brands. You won’t be disappointed if you choose to buy the Merrel Women’s Moab 2 for your next hiking trips.
What we like about this shoe is that it's made with mesh and suede leather uppers and have rubber toe caps to maximize the protection of your feet and toes. These caps are especially helpful when you're on a steep descent which can sometimes cause severe pain in the toes.
It’s equipped with Merrell Air Cushion and M Select Fit Eco + blended-EVA to improve heel support that absorbs shocks and contoured footbeds with zonal arch to provide comfort even if you’re hiking all day long. The outsoles have a Vibram TC5 plus a 5mm lug depth for maximum grip on the terrain.
With all the features combined, you’ll be sure enough that you have durable ladies hiking shoes that are affordable and breathable. We used this pair a couple of times during a long trip and we’re very much satisfied with how comfortable the cushioning is and we didn’t feel any sore.
What we don’t like about the Women’s Moab 2 is, although it repels some water, it is not waterproof. It has a bulky design because it’s quite heavy, especially if it’s soaked in wet. Overall, if your priority is durability, comfort, and traction, you should check out this product.
7. Oboz Women’s Sawtooth II Low BDry
The next on our list of best ladies hiking shoes comes from the Oboz. This company is well-known for its insole proprietary that provides their almost-perfect shoe fit and great performance. The Oboz Women’s Sawtooth II Low is an excellent choice for you if you’re looking for durability, traction, fit, and comfort.
What we like about the Sawtooth II is it is made with a highly abrasion-resistant textile and waterproof nubuck leather which makes it durable in almost all terrains. Unlike the previous products, this one has an asymmetrical collar design to protect your ankles.
The stability and cushioning that the shoe provides comes from the dual-density EVA in the midsole. Oboz added a nylon shank in the middle to give better support under your foot. Of course, the famous outsole of the company is present in this shoe. You’ll find a map molded of the Sawtooth mountain at the bottom of the outsole which, additionally, gives the support, versatility, and flexibility of the shoe.
B-Dry is the proprietary waterproof system that all Oboz shoes have which keeps the water out and transfers the sweat out from your feet. During our tests on muddy terrains and rainy weather, we noticed that it keeps our feet from getting wet on the inside, but it becomes heavy because it absorbs the water and doesn't leak the water out.
What we don’t like about the Oboz Sawtooth II is that it becomes quite heavy when wet. We also felt that it lacks other features compared to its competitors, like having a lacing system or other shoe supports. It does, however, compromises the missing elements with its sturdiness in the insole.
Best Hiking Shoes for Men
8. ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes
We consider the ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak 4.5 as one of the best men’s hiking shoes because of its superb foot protection and superb traction in rock and dirt trails. It’s also refreshing to know that the price of this shoe is the same as their previous shoes which is impressive since ALTRA has improved some of the features they have.
What we like about the Lone Peak 4.5 is that it has all the right protection in the right places. The insole is made with a 5mm contour footbed which provides excellent support and comfort even when you’re running on a cliff.
The midsole has a dual-layer EVA and A-Bound with Stone Guard which is a new feature coming from ALTRA. With this feature, it provides the shoes more protection, resiliency, and durability. We noticed that they removed the soft spring trademark in the midsole of their shoes, but the replaced component is a big step up for hikers who like rocky terrains.
The outsole has the trademark of Altra which is the MaxTrac Rubber with TrailClaw. This outsole features a hexagon and arrow-shaped lugs that are strategically positioned underneath the points of your feet. This allows a better grip during your descent which is vital if you like to go down fast.
What we don’t like about the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 is that it’s one of the heaviest men’s hiking shoes we have tested. The lugs can also get slippery when you’re on steep grass, mud, or snow, which is why we recommend using this only if you’re on dirt or rocky trails. It’s also worth taking note that this is not a waterproof shoe.
9. Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes
If you’re looking for a men’s hiking shoe that is durable, comfortable, and has a competitive price, then the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 hiking shoes should be on your list. Built for experienced hikers whose specialty is in dry places, this shoe has multiple pros and cons.
What we like about the men’s Moab 2 is the advanced Kinetic Fit on the contoured insole in which you have an option to remove anytime you want. This enhanced arch and heel structure along with a cushioned pod helps add to your stability and absorb some of the shocks.
To provide comfort while you’re on the move, Merrell has integrated their EVA foam and Vibram TC5+ 5mm lug depth. The Vibram TC5+ is consists of curved v-shapes, swooping grooves, and ovals, which is why you can expect a tight grip during your hike on dry terrain. Although, this provides almost an average traction when you’re on mud, wet weather, or snow.
What we don’t like about the Merrell Men’s Moab 22 is that even if they used materials that are synthetic mesh and suede leather, this hiking shoe could only be waterproof up to 2 minutes (based on our tests). We also consider this shoe to be on the heavyweight range, especially when it’s wet.
We maxed out our hiking backpack and noticed that this shoe doesn’t provide the needed comfort and support you’d expect from a Merrell hiking shoe. We also took note that this shoe didn’t absorb the shocks when we were jumping from rocks to rocks which can be quite uncomfortable.
10. Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10
The Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10 gets the last spot in our best men’s hiking shoes list. With its affordability, stability, responsiveness, and excellent traction, you can easily cover miles in almost any terrain without the worry of slipping through the trail.
What we like about the Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10 are the aggressive lugs that are made of PWRTRAC tacky rubber which has a chevron shape that helps create traction on any surface. We’ve tested these shoes on mud, snow, dirt, grass, and even on rocks, it didn’t disappoint us at all.
The company improved the outsoles in this version which is why it’s more durable compared to its previous versions. We only noticed minimal wear and tore on the front side which is normal since we trekked on rocky trails.
The midsole had better cushions when we compared it with the previous versions, thanks to its PWRRUN cushioning. The woven rock plate cushion plus the low stack height gives the hiker a stable ride allowing for better and faster travel. This is also perfect for hikers who prefer a minimalist hiking shoe.
What we don’t like about the Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10 is it’s quite heavy compared to the other shoes we’ve tested. Even with the upgraded midsole, we still felt like it’s a sensitive shoe based on the underfoot. After trekking a rocky trail, we already felt a slight beating in our feet.
Another thing that we’ve noticed is that, even though there’s a toe bumper in front of the shoe, it’s made with a semi-rigid plastic which feels soft and sensitive. We recommend that, if you use this shoe, you should have multiple stops during your hike so that your feet won’t get too exhausted.
Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
11. HOKA ONE ONE Women’s TOA Gore-Tex Waterproof Boots
Hoka One One produces some of the best waterproof hiking shoes in the market, and the women’s TOA Gore-Tex is no exception. It’s lightweight, supportive, and very comfortable perfect for hikers who like to venture on wet terrains quick and easy.
What we like about these shoes is that the materials that were used are specifically chosen to be waterproof. The uppers are made with nubuck leather, mesh collars, and Gore-Tex that provides a protective barrier against mud and wet weather while being comfortable and breathable at the same time.
The materials used inside the shoe are made to ensure comfort and stability. For secure midfoot traction, they’ve incorporated gusseted tongues. There’s rubberized toe caps to protect your foot even if you bump into rocks during your hike.
The midsoles are made with rubberized foams that offer exceptional responsiveness and cushioning. There’s Vibram Megagrip hi-traction on the outsole with multi-directional lugs that are great for traction and firm grip in almost any terrain.
With the lightness and comfort that this shoe brings, it feels more like a shoe than a boot which is great if you’re looking to go at a fast pace. This shoe is also great when worn during your home workout sessions or when you’re standing for a long time since it offers outstanding comfort.
What we don’t like about the HOKA ONE ONE Toa Gore-Tex is that it’s not as versatile compared to other shoes. It can also be quite slippery when we were on loose surfaces or places with sharp edgings.
12. La Sportiva Spire GTX
One of the most amazing waterproof hiking shoes we’ve tested is the La Sportiva Spire GTX. Built with abrasion-resistant mesh, heel counter, PU toe cap, and Nano Cell 2.0, you’ll find one of the most comfortable, waterproof, and a shoe that has excellent traction in on-trail hiking.
What we like about the Spire GTX is that it’s built like a running shoe appearance, but it has the stability of a low-cut hiking boot. The footbed is made with an Ortholite insole which gives comfort and security while you’re on the move.
The La Sportiva used Gore-Tex as the waterproof and lining on this shoe to ensure that no water can come inside and it keeps the shoe breathable at the same time. For the outsole, the company uses the Vibram XS Trek rubber compound to provide excellent traction and durability.
We’ve tested the Spire GTX on both on- and off-trail. From light backpacking to trail running, it didn’t disappoint us with its durability, versatility, flexibility, and overall performance. With the added Impact Braking System, we were confident enough to cross streams, jump in a rocky trail, and venture on muddy waters.
We didn’t find any fault with the La Sportiva Spire GTX. However, the price of this shoe is higher compared to its competitors, and it’s not as lightweight as the other shoes. Overall, this shoe has everything you’ll need for your next hike.
13. The North Face Ultra 109 WP
The last on our list as the best waterproof hiking shoes come from The North Face Ultra 109 WP. If you’re looking for an all-around hiking shoe with high-quality waterproof material, versatile, has excellent traction, comfort, and doesn’t break the bank, then this shoe should be at the top of your choices to buy.
The Ultra 109 WP uses a HydroSeal DryVent membrane that keeps your feet and socks dry even if you’re hiking in wet weather or crossing a muddy area. The North Face uses a PU-coated leather mudguard and mesh on the upper to provide the durability of the shoe.
What we like about this shoe is that they used an Eco-friendly Ortholite Hybrid footbed to keep your feet dry and cool even if you hike during summer. They combined this with waste foam and recycled rubber for comfort and to have less waste on the environment.
Additionally, The North Face equipped the Ultra 109 WP with UltrATAC rubber on the outsole to give you an excellent grip in almost any terrain. To help protect the shoe and your toes from bruising, they used a forefoot Snake Plate and ESS midfoot shank.
Most of us who tested The North Face Ultra 109 WP gave this shoe high remarks since we’re convinced that this is an all-in-one shoe. We used this in all our test trials, and we’re satisfied with how the waterproof system works, the comfort, traction, and overall versatility of the shoe.
What we’ve noticed in this shoe is that it’s not as durable as the other shoes we’ve tested. When we were using it on rough terrains, there were slight tear on the shoes. Overall, if you avoid rocky trails, the Ultra 109 WP is one of the best shoes in the market today that has an affordable price.
Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes
14. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX
We’ve chosen the Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX as one of the best lightweight hiking shoes in the market because it has all the right features in the right places. When we tested this shoe, we didn’t expect it to be as versatile and durable with its weight and affordability.
What we like about the Aerios FL is that the company didn’t sacrifice other features of a hiking shoe for the weight. The main material used in this shoe is the Gore-Tex membrane that is both breathable and waterproof. This material allows your feet to keep cool and take away the sweat while you’re on the move. It also keeps your feet dry if you get into a rainy or muddy situations.
Arc’teryx used a compressed EVA on the midsole to provide cushioning and a TPU shank for stability and added support. If you’re a hiker that is willing to minimize weight for you to move quickly on the trail, then this minimalist hiking shoe should be on your list to check out.
Just like other shoes that have minimal cushioning, the Aerios FL has a soft sole which means, if you step on sharp stones or when you’re in rocky terrain, you’ll often feel the poke of the stone. The traction is also not as good as a suede leather hiking shoe, which is understandable since the main purpose of this shoe is lightweight.
15. Salomon X Raise GTX
The next on our list as the best lightweight hiking shoe is the Salomon X Raise GTX. If you’re looking for a lightweight shoe that you can use during your camping trips that provide great comfort, then you should check out this shoe.
What we like about the X Rais are the materials that were used to design it. You’ll find an OrthoLite die-cut in the insole, which gives the shoe great cushioning, durability, and breathability which is rare if you’re looking at the lightweight category.
Salomon equipped this shoe with protective rubber, synthetic material, and leather to protect your toes from absorbing the pressure when you’re descending. They also added a protective mudguard at the base of the foot to protect you from feeling stones and hard edges.
If we’re going to choose a hiking shoe that has an all-around comfort, high-mileage coverage, and outstanding cushioning, we will select the X Raise. We love how lightweight it is and the flexible style somehow puts a personality to the shoe.
What we don’t like about the Salomon X Raise GTX is the outsole is somewhat slippery and we were in doubt if we happened to go through wet conditions. That is the reason why we recommend that you only use this on dirt, rocky and dry terrains which doesn’t need strong stability and traction.
16. Vasque Men Breeze Lt Low GTX
We’ve chosen the Vasque Men Breeze Lt Low GTX as our last best lightweight hiking shoe because it is one of the most versatile shoes in the market in this category. We only recorded one disadvantage it has, and with its price, you’ll be sure that every penny is worth it.
What we like about the Breeze Lt is that it has the best waterproofing and traction in the lightweight category. Made with Gore-Tex membrane, it’s lightweight, sturdy, and waterproof in which you’ll be sure to reach your destination without worrying about your shoe.
We love how they partnered the Gore-Tex with abrasion-resistant mesh, synthetic microfiber, Dual-density rebound footbed, and molded compression EVA midsole to ensure that you’ll have a comfortable hike along your way. These features allow the shoe to be breathable, to have a better fit, and more versatile in any terrain that hike.
It’s only fair that we highlight how great the traction of the Breeze Lite works. We were confident enough to use it in wet rocky terrain, muddy areas, and tight areas. The only thing we noticed is that the shoes can easily be scratched which means the durability might not last too long compared to other products.
How Do I Choose Hiking Shoes?
Hiking is one of the most awarding activities that a person can have. You can see nature, exercise your body, relax your mind, and take away all your worries from the city life. If it's your first time to venture into this hobby or if you're someone who would like to make hiking a hobby, it's important that you know what type of hiking shoes to get.
In this section, we will be discussing the different types of hiking footwear and the features that you need to look for.
Type of Hiking Shoes
Looking for a camping shoe that fits your hiking itinerary is vital. You wouldn't want to wear footwear that's heavy if you're planning to a day hike that requires you to trek fast. You also wouldn't want to wear a hiking shoe that provides minimal comfort if you plan to hike more than three days.
Here are the different types of hiking shoes that you can choose from:
Day Hiking Shoes
You should choose to buy a day hiking shoes if you plan to reach your destination and come back home the same day. These shoes can withstand heavy day packs, has ankle support, and has better stability compared to trekking shoes.
- Most shoes are water-resistant
- Great ankle support
- Better stability
- Durable uppers and soles
- Less flexible
- Most shoes are not breathable
If you prefer to go on a rugged terrain that requires your shoe to have excellent traction, have great ankle support, and helps support your feet from getting tires because of heavy backpacks, then backpacking shoes should be the right choice for you.
- Great ankle support
- Provides stability
- More cushions for more extended comfort
- Most are water-resistant
- Heavier compared to day hiking shoes
- Most are not breathable
- Most are not flexible
- Trail Running Shoes
Traction and cushions are the priorities of trail running shoes. This would be the best fit for you if you prefer short hikes, carrying lightweight backpacks, wants to run through the trail, and doesn't need stability or ankle support.
- Super flexible
- More durable compared to regular running shoes
- More breathable
- Less stable
- Less durable
- Minimal to no ankle support
- Most are not water-resistant
Features to Look for in a Hiking Shoe
Now that you have an idea what type of shoe is best for your hiking trips, you must know what features to look for. These features vary depending on the type of shoe that you're going to use and the specialty of the hiking shoe brand. Here are the features that you should look for:
Manufacturers use different materials on the uppers of a hiking shoe. These materials often determine how efficient the shoe is when it comes to durability, lightweight, water resistance, and breathability. Here are some of the materials that are being used today:
- Full-grain leather: This is the heaviest material that can be used. It's the most abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, and durable of all materials. It's also the least flexible and breathable of all.
- Suede and Nubuck: This is more flexible and softer than full-grain leather. It's also less water-resistant and durable at the same time.
- Synthetics: There are many kinds of synthetics in hiking shoes. These can be polyurethane, polyester, or nylon which can vary from density and thickness. Generally, this material is more flexible, breathable, lighter, dries faster, and less expensive. It's also less water-resistant and less durable when compared to leather.
- Mesh: This material is often found in low-wear areas. This makes the shoe lower in weight and more breathable, but it isn't durable at all.
- Waterproof and breathable membranes: This material is inserted between the outer and inner layers of the upper of the shoe. This allows the shoe to become waterproof and breathable at the same time. Well-known brands of these membranes are eVent or Gore-Tex.
What's the Difference Between Sneakers, Hiking Boots, and Hiking Shoes?
Most newbie hikers use the shoes that are available to them. But if you're an enthusiast hiker or would like to start a hiking hobby, it's important that you know the difference between sneakers, hiking boots, and hiking shoes so that you can avoid foot fatigue during and after your hike.
Hiking Boots vs. Sneakers
Hiking boots generally have more traction than sneakers, thanks to the aggressive lugs on the sole. These lugs ensure that you won't easily slip through mud, snow, or wet trails. Hiking boots also offer better support and balance to your feet to help you stabilize even when jumping from stone to stone.
Generally speaking, hiking boots are more durable compared to sneakers to ensure that you won't get any footwear accidents while you're on the go. If you are fond of rocky trails, it's best if you choose hiking boots because they also offer ankle support.
Hiking Shoes vs Sneakers
Hiking shoes are perfect if you're planning to go on a hike through rough terrains or a short hiking trip. Using sneakers can give you quite a challenge, especially if you come across some stream or get stuck during wet weather.
In terms of breathability, hiking shoes do a better job of keeping your feet cool and dry because most designs allow fresh air to go through the shoes, unlike sneakers, which are mostly built with design and cushions in mind.
Durability-wise, hiking shoes are sturdier compared to sneakers when going on a camping trip. Camping shoes are mostly built to endure long walks and rough terrains, unlike sneakers, which are primarily used in pavements.
When you're looking to buy the best hiking shoe, you must first know what type of hiker you are. Hikers can differ depending on the kind of trail and trip you always want to go to. Once you know this, it'll be easier for you to choose the type of footwear and material that you should wear. Also, you won't get a hard time choosing a hiking shoe that's right for you.
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