Today’s best hiking boots are designed for a wide consumer base. You can have your pick of lighter models for casual use and old school heavy-duty boots designed for hiking in rocky environments, on steep trails, and for wading through water without giving it a second thought.
There are many choices when it comes to design, features, and performance levels. We’ve selected and reviewed our top picks of the best hiking boots for 2018, and provided you with a comprehensive buying guide to help you the best hiking boots for your needs.
Note: Every selection has both a men’s and women’s option.
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Although hiking shoes are very popular these days because they are so comfortable, these shoes don’t compare to a decent pair of hiking boots. What’s certain is that you won’t find experienced climbers using hiking sandals or trail running shoes. So why should you settle for less quality even if you are a casual hiker?
The honest answer is that you shouldn’t. A good pair of hiking boots can still offer a good level of comfort across all seasons while also providing a lot more traction across rugged terrain, mud and of course, protection against water. Hiking shoes have limited use and are not suitable for medium to difficult hikes. This is particularly true if you are hiking on varying terrain.
All boots in this category are best suited for the casual climber or ultralight enthusiasts. They are sturdy enough in design to endure a couple of miles of hiking at a time and are also flexible enough to provide the desired level of comfort. Lightweight boots, however, will not last you long if you decide to carry a heavy backpack or go on a 2 to 3-day nonstop climb in harsh conditions. They last longer when you alternate between casual use and occasional hiking.
Midweight hiking boots offer a medley of weight, durability, and comfort. They almost always feature waterproof materials and can be a good choice if you are at an intermediate hiking level. Midweight boots are considerably more durable than a pair of lightweights but they are a bit heavy for everyday use and casual walking.
These boots are designed for the most experienced hikers and the most rugged terrains. They are incredibly durable and will help you to carry a lot of weight even on the steepest of trails. Heavyweight boots are nearly always waterproof and will keep your feet warm during the winter but will be comfortable during the hot seasons. They also require a longer breaking in period so if you’re looking to head straight to the nearest trail, you should look for a more flexible design.
Whether you want to walk for a couple of hours or three days straight, to avoid blisters, fatigue or even ankle injuries, you need to find a pair of hiking boots that offer a good balance between comfort and performance.
For amateur and professional climbers alike, midweight boots will often be the preferred choice for both durability and comfort. The lightweight hiking boots lean more toward comfort and can be more suitable for beginners and casual climbers. In contrast, a sturdy pair of midweight boots is great for all types of weather conditions and flexible enough to traverse rocky areas or muddy patches without too much strain.
Avoiding accidents is crucial for all climbers. As a casual hiker, you need just as much stability and traction on your hiking boots as an experienced climber does. Even if you don’t tackle very rocky terrain or slippery areas, chances are you are not always as careful when you plant your feet.
Having a pair of boots that does half the job for you, is therefore crucial, and this is why this feature is so important when buying hiking boots. You will always get better traction from hiking boots than you would from hiking shoes. What’s more, the easier it is to walk or climb on harsh terrain, the more energy you save. Mentally, you will also feel safer if you know the chances of you slipping on something are close to zero.
Let’s say you always check the weather channel and never leave if you know it’s going to rain. You would still benefit from a pair of hiking boots with waterproof features. First of all, you’ll be protected if you step or fall into the water. Waterproof materials also help to provide an extra layer of insulation and will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
If you end up crossing very muddy areas, just imagine how easy it will be to hose off all the junk from your boots at home without ruining the materials. Even boot models that don’t use leather and just apply a waterproof coating can still be easily cleaned without damaging the inside.
This is a feature you need to pay close attention to when shopping for hiking boots. It can make the difference between purchasing one pair of boots for all-year use and buying multiple pairs for different seasons. As a general rule, heavyweight boots will almost never keep you cool during the summer and lightweight boots will not provide enough warmth during the winter.
A good pair of midweight hiking boots, however, will provide a good balance during all weather conditions and across multiple temperature levels. Always keep in mind that to get the most out of your boots, you need to use appropriate seasonal socks and make sure your feet can breathe comfortably.
Weighing just 640g, this lightweight pair of hiking boots is perfect if you’re an amateur hiker. The nubuck leather and textile combo paired with GORE-Tex waterproof protection will allow you to tackle dry and somewhat wet environments with ease. The 4D 2 GTX uses the 4D chassis technology to provide you with three layers of comfort, stability, and all-terrain control.
While comfortable to a certain degree, the boot size might not always match specifications. The 4D 2 GTX model is a durable product and extensive testing has shown that if you’re thinking about buying them for everyday use or want to take them out on rugged mountain trails they they will go the distance. The waterproofing feature is great if you happen to get caught up in a storm once in a while but you should try to keep them as dry as possible afterwards because they can wear down if you don’t.
In terms of durability, the Hoka One Hiking Boots are a great choice. You can use them if you work outdoors a lot, as they are quite comfortable for most people. They provide great stability so you will have no issues going through mud, water, gravel or plain old cement roads. If you have no balance issues, these boots won’t give you any either. The waterproofing is also more durable than that featured on the Quest 4D 2 GTX from Salomon, so you don’t have to worry about spending time in the rain.
Although people share shoe sizes, they don’t necessarily share the foot shape too. If there’s one thing to be wary about if you’re looking at the Hoka One model, it is their tip design. While comfortable as a pair of hiking boots for most people, this pair can sometimes cause discomfort as the toe area is a bit narrow on the inside.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Timberland has a pair of hiking boots featured on this list, given their decades of experience with products like these. This lightweight model will suit you well in pretty much any environment you want. The B.S.F.P system for support and traction as well as the breathable foot bed will make you feel as comfortable and stable as if you were wearing sneakers on a smooth road.
The boots are designed to provide maximum traction and control while hiking, working, and walking; so that you can use a single pair of hiking boots for more than one activity. The full leather exterior creates a great waterproof layer and ensures nothing gets in during autumn showers or hard winters.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and tests have shown that, although these hiking boots are breathable, your feet can catch fire during the summer unless you use the right socks. We’ve also had some issues with the top brackets for the laces coming off after extensive use. That of course, is nothing that can’t be replaced, but it is still an inconvenience.
St. Elias by Vasque is another lightweight model that is great if you’re an amateur backpacker. The boots are equipped to offer the stability and traction of a heavyweight pair of hiking boots as long as you don’t commit to the very longest trails. They are very durable but will begin to tear if you use them constantly.
They can handle heavier loads, and at the same time allow you to move with great agility on steep trails. The GORE-TEX waterproofing system is superior to the cheapest boots on the market, but nothing to make you say, WOW!
The laces don’t match the quality of the boots. After about 100 miles, you might start to notice tearing. It’s a good idea to always carry some spares in your backpack to avoid these problems. We have to point out that these boots won’t suit everyone. You will have to try them on and see if they feel comfortable.
If you’re a casual weekend hiker but also want to enjoy a good pair of boots for everyday use, the Bridger BDRY from Oboz is a good choice. This midweight category hiking boot provides stability and comfort for smooth and rugged terrain. This product can last you a very long time if you look after them and alternate their use between normal walking and trailblazing, seeing as the weather makes no difference at all.
Unlike the other hiking boots models on our list, the minor design flaw we found here was a tighter heel area. This is not a major game changer by any means, because if you just avoid the truly rocky areas, which you should as an amateur climber, you will have no discomfort whatsoever. The insulation and leather are, in combination, perfect for both winter and summer use but extensive use can cause some separation between the outside layer and the rubber sole protection.
All the boots we’ve tested have their own merits but only two of them rose above all else, the Oboz Bridger BDRY Hiking Boot and the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot. Both pairs offer versatility and levels of comfort that are worth your money. However, only one product can earn the title of the best hiking boot, and we have decided to award it to the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot.
While the BDRY has similarly good features, we feel that the ultimate hiking boot for casual climbers was made by Salomon. They provide better insulation during the winter, and more traction and stability for all terrain purposes, because they are way less slippery than other models. You can wear them in harsh conditions for a longer period of time without having to worry about them falling apart. =ZIP=