Just like you’d never go off-roading with bald tires, hiking in casual athletic shoes is a recipe for disaster. To set yourself up for success on the trail, you’ll need to lace up a pair of durable hiking boots.
While the shopping criteria for everyday footwear revolve around style and comfort, hiking boots are all about functionality. Whether you’re trekking across a rugged trail, sloshing through mud puddles, or trudging through the snow, a quality pair of hiking boots can make the difference between downright misery or memorable Type II fun.
Features to Look for in Hiking Boots
A good hiking boot starts with a durable, high-traction outsole—you’ll notice many boots feature outsoles by Vibram, an industry leader in rubber outsole design—that allows you to traverse off-pavement terrain with confidence. It’s also important to find a boot with a comfortable upper that has a breathable, and ideally water-resistant, lining. (Gore-Tex waterproof membranes are one example.) In addition, look for a comfortable insole, a shock absorbing midsole, and if you plan to hike in cold weather, sufficient insulation. With those boxes checked, you’ve found yourself the ultimate pair of hiking boots.
To help you find the best hiking boots for your budget and trail conditions, we’ve rounded up 10 options from top brands including Salomon, Vasque, Danner, Merrell and more.