A key piece of kit you will need for your hiking adventures are of course a good solid pair of hiking boots or trail shoes. No matter where you plan to hike, you need something reliable and solid on your feet that will keep you comfortable.
As with rain Jackets, there are so many quality options available these days, it is worth taking some time to consider what you will be using your trusty hiking boots or trail shoes for.
Know What You Need Them For
Before we look at specific hiking boots it’s worth noting that there are many different qualities you can look for in a hiking boot depending on the environment you’re hiking in, e.g. different size cuts, technical capabilities, etc., and, most importantly, what function you need your boots for.
With that in mind, if you’re new to hiking and have never bought hiking boots before, check out the guide on how to choose hiking boots or shoes. That will walk you through all the many things you need to consider when choosing a pair of hiking boots or shoes.
How This Page Works
There are many really good hiking boot options out there. I’ve went through a bunch of them to pick out some of the ones that I feel are the best options based on their functionality and capability for a specific purpose.
What I mean by that, is that in the sections below I give my top recommendation for a pair of hiking boots based on their specific purpose e.g. day hiking, backpacking, etc. I’ve also given a nod to construction and selected my favorite boot in terms of material i.e. predominantly leather or Gore-tex (or mixed but mainly GTX). Finally, where appropriate, I’ve included pictures and links to both the men and women's options.
Before we begin its worth stating that in my opinion, there is no such thing as ‘the best hiking boots’ in some kind of universal context. While you can get pretty close to a hiking boot that works well for many, there will always be a significant portion of people for whom the boots just don’t work. Foot sizes differ, tastes differ, hiking styles differ, etc. etc. In summary, Hiking Boots, like any pair of boots or shoes, are a truly unique thing for each individual.
So, what I am listing below is my opinion based on various factors e.g. personal experience, user reviews, etc. However, it’s just possible that what I have listed may not be the best option for you in that category. I hope that doesn’t sound contradictory but what I want to do first and foremost is provide you with good information to help you make an informed decision.
So, without dragging the preamble on too much further, if you click on the hiking boot image below or the learn more links at the end of each boot summary, you will be taken through to more detailed information on the site, e.g. a review, or to an external link where more information is available. If however you don’t like the look of any of my favorite and recommended options, I suggest you check out 10 of the best men's hiking boots or 10 of the best women's hiking boots.
These list out some of the best hiking boot options available in the market today. There, you will find a whole host of other excellent hiking boot options, which are all top performers with good user ratings. Again, you can follow the links on those pages to learn more about a specific pair of boots.
Day Hiking Boots
In this section I first zero in on my current favorite options for day hiking. These boots should be good for most of your day hiking needs most of the year round (except in severe weather conditions like thick ice and snow).
Best 2 to 3 Season Hiking Boots
If you day hike mainly on trails and paths, a light Gore-tex / Nubuck leather pair hiking boots is an excellent choice. The best option is the Lowa Renegade Mid GTX hiking boots.
I bought the Lowa Renegade Mid GTX hiking boots last summer and I have been very pleased with them. They're a really functional and comfortable pair of hiking boots. They're ideal for late spring, summer and early autumn use, although if you live in a warmer climate, they should meet most of your hiking needs all year round.
It's definitely worth taking a closer look at the Renegade Mid GTX hiking boots for men. There is also a ladies version of these boots available which are just as popular as the men's version. You can learn more about the women's Renegade Mid GTX hiking boots here.
Next up, let’s take a look at my favorite options in the backpacking boots category. Now, these are of course perfectly fine for day hiking but they are designed with a stiffer sole, longer shank and other specific features that lend themselves specifically to helping you carry a heavy load on your back.
Backpacking boots are normally heavier and chunkier than day hiking boots too. The boots below are my favorite options for backpacking. We start with predominantly leather boots before moving to a more technical style and model.
Best Men's 4 Season / Backpacking Boots
If you hike all year round in tougher conditions, like to get off the trail a lot and maybe like to mix things up with a bit of backpacking, a classic leather Alpine style pair of hiking boots is hard to beat. The best option is the Meindl Vakuum GTX Hiking Boots.
I bought these early Autumn last year and they are awesome! They are technically a 3 season pair of hiking boots but they will do most average hikers all year round. They're a tough and classic pair of German crafted leather hiking boots in a traditional style and look. They’ve got tough and strong construction so they’re able to take on nearly any type of environment and conditions a hiker can throw at them.
The boots can be resoled so if you look after these bad boys, they’ll last you a long, long time. Perfect for hiking, backpacking and general outdoor use, the Meindl Vakuum boots come in and around $320.00 at retail price but if you are patient, you can find a deal.
Pros: Nubuck leather upper with breathable Gore-tex lining for a comfortable fit, year round use boots, boots can be resoled
Cons: Long break-in period may be needed, boots are quite heavy in relative terms
Best Uses: Hiking, mountaineering, backpacking
Learn more about Meindl Vakuum GTX hiking boots for men here.
Best Women's 4 Season / Backpacking Boots
For the ladies, Danner have an excellent model that is tough, durable and comfortable for harder treks on the trail. The best women's option are Danner's Stumptown hiking boots.
The final section on this page shows my favorite trail shoe option. I have to be honest and say that I don’t hike a lot in trail shoes, that is I don't use them to hike in mountains and on the trail that much. I do use trail shoes nearly every day but mainly for normal day to day use. Don’t know what it is, but I prefer my hiking boots for the days on the hills and my trail shoes for knocking about in. I am still very demanding of them though!
Best Trail Shoes
Perfect for trail hiking in Spring and Summer, trail shoes are a great option when appropriate to wear. The best option is the Lowa Lo Renegade II GTX Hiking Shoes.
I bought the Men's Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo Hiking Shoe's about three months back and I have been very pleased with them. They are comfortable and very sturdy. They've kept my feet dry and comfortable so far this winter and I expect them to last a long time.
I was initially interested in these shoes as the Lowa Renegade GTX Hiking Boots, shown above, have been a top performer with many happy customers for some time now so I wanted to see if the same level of quality would pass into the hiking shoes. I can confirm that to be the case.
They retail at $210.00 so definitely in the higher range for a pair of hiking shoes so quality would be expected for sure.
Pros: Comfortable and very sturdy, minimal break-in period, great grip, good multi-purpose hiking shoes
Cons: Definitely a bit heavier and bulkier than other trail shoes
Best Uses: Hiking, day-to-day use
Learn more about the Lowa Men's Renegade II GTX Lo for men here and the Lowa women's Renegade II GTX Lo for women here.
OK, so that’s it for now. I hope you found this information useful and it helps you in the process of choosing the right pair of hiking boots or shoes for your needs. Take your time and educate yourself well in the process and, most importantly, be clear about what you need your hiking boots or shoes for.
If you just like to walk your dog in low hills all year round, you don’t really need a pair of full on backpacking boots … you can if you really want to though of course 🙂 You get the idea though, knowing what you need them for is key.
I'll be updating this page as things change but these are my recommendations for now. Happy hiking!