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The 8 Best Hiking Boots for Men of 2024

Our hiking team laced up and tested boots from Hoka, Salomon, La Sportiva, Merrell, and more to identify the best options for your next adventure
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Best Hiking Boots Men Review (Get to know some of this year's award winning boots!)
Get to know some of this year's award winning boots!
Credit: Ryan Huetter
By Ryan Huetter and Ben Applebaum-Bauch  ⋅  May 2, 2024

The Best Men's Hiking Boots for 2024


We have tested hiking boots for 12 years, with close to 80 unique models bought and pitted head-to-head. This updated review analyzes 17 of the best models available today. Our review team is a group of avid hikers excited to share their experiences with you. This team of alpine guides and backcountry enthusiasts spent months hiking through mountains, deserts, and forests on the trail and off before scoring, ranking, and passing final judgment on all the models in our lineup. The resulting review has in-depth details on specific performance areas and recommendations for finding the best hiking gear for your budget.

If you want a lighter-weight option, something from our top men's hiking shoe review could be an excellent alternative to a full boot. And even though most boots come in both men's and women's versions, it is not always the case that they perform similarly for both. To that end, we conduct in-depth testing by female reviewers in our review of the best women's hiking boots and top-ranked women's hiking shoes.

Editor's Note: We updated our men's hiking boot review on May 2, 2024, to include a new product in the lineup.

Related: Best Hiking Boots for Women

Top 17 Hiking Boots - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 17
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $179.93 at REI
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$349 List
$348.95 at Backcountry
$89.55 at Backcountry
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$131.21 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very stable, super plush sole, leather upper is durableTop-level hiking boot performance, excels in all metricsBest choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes wellLightweight, comfortable, excellent tractionIncredibly lightweight, comfortable
Cons Lacing hooks are not perfect, some break in period required, not great for hot climatesExpensive, not as great for hot and dry climatesWider fit, not the best lace locking system, very expensiveNarrow fit, slightly small sizingLess durable than heavier models, thin sole
Bottom Line This hiking boot offers immense comfort and is stable and supportive, making it a perfect choice for those venturing on anything from day hikes to heavyweight backpacking tripThe gold standard of what a great hiking boot should be, and we heartily recommend it for those seeking the best possible performance on and off the trailFor rocky alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, this model is a lightweight mountain boot disguised as a hiking bootThis high-performing hiking boot tears up technical terrain with maximum precision and is at home far from the trailThis mid-top hiking boot is ridiculously lightweight, though it offers excellent stability and traction for fast and light objectives
Rating Categories Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX La Sportiva Ultra R... Salomon X Ultra Mid...
Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Support (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
4.5
5.6
8.0
8.9
Durability (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX La Sportiva Ultra R... Salomon X Ultra Mid...
Measured Weight (per pair, size 11) 2.54 lbs 2.90 lbs 2.65 lbs 2.08 lbs 1.85 lbs
Upper Waterproof nubuck leather Leather and nylon 1.8mm suede perwanger AirMesh, microfiber, TPU PU coated leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide Regular
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-Tex extended comfort Gore-Tex
Boot Type Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Lightweight hiker/day hiker Midweight hiker/backpacking boot
Last Board/Shank Not specified 4D Chassis BZ last Nylon molded flex TPU Molded shank
Midsole 2-density CMEVA (rubberized EVA) EnergyCell PU + 3D EVA-MP Injection-molded MEMlex SensiFit
Sole Vibram Megagrip rubber Contagrip TD Vibram Drumlin / Mont FriXion XF 2.0 Contagrip


Best Overall Hiking Boot


Hoka Kaha 2 GTX


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Support 9.0
  • Traction 8.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 7.0
Weight (per pair): 2.54 pounds | Upper: Waterproof nubuck leather
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible comfort
High-quality materials and build
Super supportive
Top-notch water resistance
REASONS TO AVOID
Not cheap
Thick sole may take some getting used to
Slightly longer break-in period than lighter boots

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is an outstanding boot that combines comfort and support with some really cool new designs, sure to turn heads when you walk down the trail. The meta-rockered style that uses Hoka's unique Swallowtail heel gives a much smoother gait when striding along, and thanks to 2 inches of ridiculously comfortable EVA compression molded foam, it feels like you are walking on a cloud.

Despite all this comfort, the Kaha doesn't feel like wearing a big marshmallow. There is enough stability in the midsole and through the high-top ankle that those seeking top-level protection will find it in this boot. Using durable materials like nubuck leather and adding a tried and true Gore-Tex liner for waterproofness, we believe this is one of the best boots you could ask for in most climates outside of hot and dry environments. If you require a boot that's ready to hit the trail right out of the box, we found the lightweight and thin-soled Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex didn't require a break-in period. Though it's lacking somewhat in the durability department, it is supportive.

Read more: Hoka Kaha 2 GTX review

The Kaha 2 GTX is tall and very waterproof, perfect for fjording this creek on a local hike.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Bang for the Buck


Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Support 7.0
  • Traction 6.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 6.8
  • Durability 6.0
Weight (per pair): 2.36 pounds | Upper: Suede leather, mesh
REASONS TO BUY
Good value
Out-of-the-box comfort
Waterproof
REASONS TO AVOID
Mediocre traction
Heavy relative to height

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof is a comfortable and affordable hiking boot that feels good right out of the box. Testers were blister-free over dozens of miles, and the arch support is some of the best in the category. The insole and EVA midsole provide excellent cushioning, and the padded tongue minimizes chafing during ankle flexion. The suede and mesh upper don't look waterproof, but in reality, this boot offers above-average protection through shallow water crossings and mud.

We think the Moab 3 Mid is a great option overall for the casual backpacker requiring wet weather protection, but the padding and suede upper also make this one of the warmer boots during hot weather hikes. We were also lukewarm on their traction capabilities in anything besides smoother terrain due to the shallow lugs. Despite these critiques, this is an excellent and affordable boot that will provide long-lasting comfort to a wide range of potential hikers. If you desire better traction without paying the highest dollar, the mid-range La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a boot to consider. It's lightweight and features excellent traction built for more technical terrain.

Read more: Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof review

The solidly built Moab 3 Waterproof boots give you a lot of boot for not a lot of money.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Support


Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Support 9.0
  • Traction 8.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Weight 4.5
  • Durability 7.0
Weight (per pair): 2.90 pounds | Upper: Nubuck leather and textile
REASONS TO BUY
Comfy
Beefy yet nimble
Stable and speedy
Excellent water resistance
REASONS TO AVOID
Many seams could present durability issues over the long term
On the heavier side
Not best for light hiking

The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex is a tried and true hiking boot that, in many ways, defines the category. Hiking boots have historically been tall, supportive, and capable of providing exceptional support to those ferrying large loads into the backcountry. In the total package of the Quest 4, you are treated with cushioned comfort, excellent stability, and some of the best waterproof credentials in the business. This boot is for hikers who want to do long and demanding backpacking trips in difficult terrain, carrying a heavier pack. With the tallest ankle cuff height of any boot in our review and an innovative support structure, we feel these are the most stable backpacking boots out there, and the height also gives them an advantage in water resistance.

We wholeheartedly recommend the Quest 4 for hikers needing the ultimate support and performance on heavyweight backpacking trips. It excels on long hikes thanks to a customizable fit that adapts to the shape of your foot. It has the support you need when carrying overnight backpacking gear, and its traction ensures you won't slip. The boot weighs more than many other models we tested, but we think that weight is well worth the performance upgrade. The only aspect where this boot doesn't excel is dumping heat and sweat on hikes in hot and arid climates. Aside from that, we are thoroughly impressed with this world-class hiker. Those looking to go lighter without significantly sacrificing stability should look at the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX.

Read more: Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex review

Stable and comfortable with excellent water resistance, this boot is made to go the extra miles with you.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best for Mountain Climbing


Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Support 9.0
  • Traction 10.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Weight 5.6
  • Durability 7.0
Weight (per pair): 2.65 pounds | Upper: 1.8mm suede Perwanger
REASONS TO BUY
Solid all-around performance
Incredible traction
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
High price tag
Requires continued maintenance of leather outer

The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX is a pared-down mountain boot, making it an optimal choice for off-trail travel, mountain scrambling, and heavy loads. It has excellent stability, giving you the confidence to edge or smear up the steepest terrain you might encounter on a challenging cross-country hike. The Vibram sole is sticky while staying durable, and the full-grain leather upper will take a lot of abuse before it starts showing signs of wear.

On the other hand, we had to knock off some comfort score points due to the rigid midsole. The boot features a rockered sole, which makes it walk better than the average mountain boot. On the other hand, it offers a less soft ride than you would enjoy in a less stiff boot. Consider this model if you are into off-trail travel, carrying overnight packs, and scrambling up 3rd and 4th-class terrain. If you want more versatility, the plush-soled Hoka Kaha 2 GTX offers a higher degree of comfort.

Read more: Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX review

Scarpa's Zodiac Plus GTX boots were made for climbing, offering superb traction on all types of terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best for Off-Trail Hiking


La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Support 8.0
  • Traction 9.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Durability 7.0
Weight (per pair): 2.08 pounds | Upper: AirMesh, Microfiber, TPU
REASONS TO BUY
All-around performance
Solid traction
Lightweight yet stable
REASONS TO AVOID
Not cheap
Runs small

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a trail running-inspired boot shoe that has been beefed to be one of the best all-terrain machines out there. With the comfort of a shoe and the support and traction of a boot, the Ultra Raptor punches well above its weight class. This is the hiking boot for you if you want the most capable cross-country footwear while also keeping weight down and prioritizing on-trail walking comfort — something that similarly capable, heavier-weight models don't always do a good job at.

Our biggest complaint with the Ultra Raptor II Mid is the sizing: we had to reorder these boots in a half size larger than our normal street shoe size to achieve the right fit. We should also note that La Sportiva offers this boot in a wide version, so prospective users should be able to find the right fit armed with that knowledge. On the other hand, those with wide feet planning on treading trails that don't require high degrees of support may find the zero-drop Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 to be a comfortable fit.

Read more: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX review

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX really impressed us with their performances on varied surfaces, including slippery transitions from wet to dry terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best for Lightweight Hiking


Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Support 7.0
  • Traction 8.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 8.9
  • Durability 5.0
Weight (per pair): 1.85 pounds | Upper: Leather and textile
REASONS TO BUY
Supportive
Low weight
More comfortable than most
Fast
REASONS TO AVOID
Durability issues
Not as rugged as many heavier models

The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex is one of the lightest hiking boots we have worn. These boots keep the same mid-ankle support that we expect for off-trail travel and excursions with heavy packs while shaving nearly a half-pound from the previous model — through some kind of black magic we can only assume. These boots use the same ADV-C Chassis and ActiveSupport technologies as the low-top shoe version of this model, and we find that the support they offer is exceptional, wrapping securely around the foot to create a stable platform that resists rolling. Thanks to the Gore-Tex liner, they are waterproof, making them perfectly suited for nearly all terrain types and environments.

Consider this particular boot a very supportive hiking shoe or an incredibly minimalist hiking boot. It is quite lightweight but still offers good ankle support and fleet-footedness over cross-country terrain. This weight savings and substantial use of synthetic materials may mean there are some longer-term durability issues. So, by leaning into the lighter weight side of the boot category, you may have to replace your footwear more often as it will wear out faster. These are going to be best for the hiker who really wants the weight savings of the shoe but still needs the support of a boot. But if your adventures require a more rugged model for alpine climbs, the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX can tackle the mountain.

Read more: Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex review

We were impressed with how nimble and easy-to-grip these lightweight Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex proved when tested in varied off-trail terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Waterproof Protection


La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6.0
  • Support 7.0
  • Traction 8.0
  • Water Resistance 9.0
  • Weight 6.6
  • Durability 7.0
Weight (per pair): 2.41 pounds | Upper: Nubuck leather
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent waterproofing
Gusseted tongue for easy slip-on
Good performance on downhills
REASONS TO AVOID
Middling stability
Difficult-to-use lace hooks

The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is our favorite boot for coming out of water crossings unscathed. The Gore-Tex Surround lining and nubuck leather upper kept our feet dry, while the boot itself dried quickly after splashing through streams. The gusseted tongue also helped with water repellency. These are also one of the lighter pairs in this category, which definitely saved our feet after long miles. The Vibram sole has pleasantly grippy lugs, and the heel has some rock to it, making it easier to brace and brake on downhills.

We found the stability of this boot to be somewhat disappointing. Even though it has extra cushioning on both the inside and outside of the ankle, the upper still gives way under torsion. We also found the lace hooks were curiously and frustratingly challenging to use. It means the laces stay really secure, but we've never really experienced issues with lace hooks on other boots, so we aren't sure why La Sportiva went with the hard-to-use redesign here. Regardless, this model is our first pick for those stomping through puddles and making their way across streams, brooks, and shallow rivers. Another model you may like for water crossings is the stable Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex.

Read more: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX review

hiking boots men - the la sportiva nucleo high ii gtx has a moderately stiff upper and...
The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX has a moderately stiff upper and heel guard that kept our feet in place throughout our hikes.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for Wide Feet


Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Support 6.0
  • Traction 5.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Durability 5.0
Weight (per pair): 1.83 pounds | Upper: eVent Fabric
REASONS TO BUY
Very light
Comfortable right away
Wide fit
REASONS TO AVOID
Less support
Not very durable

The Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 has a couple of unique things going for it: it is one of the only “zero-drop” boots in our review, and it has the most forefoot space of any boot we tested. Zero-drop shoes and boots have been making a name for themselves in recent years, as the neutral height allows the foot to be in a more natural, almost barefoot-like position. Some love them, and some don't care for them, but if you are interested in zero-drop hiking boots, the Lone Peak is our top choice. We like how comfortable and springy they are, and those with wide feet will really appreciate how much room they get in the forefoot for toes to splay, making this a pretty great choice for someone who wants more room in their boots for comfort or wider feet.

While this is a mid-top boot, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR is still pretty flexible and does not offer as much support or stability as other models in the same weight class. It is not uncommon to find zero-drop shoes trending towards this minimalist style, allowing the foot to be more of a partner rather than the boot imparting all the support. We find this style of footwear effective for long thru-hikes where the weight you carry is pared down. If you need a lightweight model that bridges the gap between hiking shoes and boots, the comfortable and supportive Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex is worth a look.

Read more: Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 review

If you seek a roomy toe box and plan to cover smooth, well-packed trails, you cannot go wrong with the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2, although they aren't likely to be equally comfortable on technical terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
82
Hoka Kaha 2 GTX
Best Overall Hiking Boot
$240
Editors' Choice Award
81
Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex
Best Support
$230
Top Pick Award
80
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
Best for Mountain Climbing
$349
Top Pick Award
77
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX
Best for Off-Trail Hiking
$199
Top Pick Award
74
Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex
Best for Lightweight Hiking
$175
Top Pick Award
74
Hoka Anacapa 2 Mid GTX
$195
73
La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX
$299
72
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Best Waterproof Protection
$239
Top Pick Award
72
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
$255
70
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
Best Bang for the Buck
$150
Best Buy Award
70
Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2
Best for Wide Feet
$180
Top Pick Award
68
Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof
$120
68
Arc'teryx Acrux TR GTX
$250
65
Keen Targhee III Mid
$165
59
Keen Zionic Waterproof Mid
$170
52
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof
$100
51
Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof
$120

hiking boots men - we test all the products in our review out in the field in all...
We test all the products in our review out in the field in all manner of terrain. From sun to mud to stream crossings, you can take confidence that we put these boots through the wringer.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

How We Test Hiking Boots for Men


Over a decade, we've tested almost 80 pairs of men's hiking boots. Our testing took place in some of the most rugged and iconic mountain ranges in the country, including the High Sierra, the Cascade Range, volcanoes and deserts of southern Peru, and the desert country around Moab. This review draws on hours of research followed by months of testing, more than 350 miles of collective hiking, and strategic tests. Comfort and support are crucial for footwear, so we weighted these the heaviest. Traction scores combine our experience hiking in each boot for up to 20 miles and an average of each product's scores on specific dry rock, wet rock, scree, mud, and scrambling tests.

Our hiking boot testing is divided across six rating metrics:
  • Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Support (25% weighting)
  • Traction (15% weighting)
  • Water Resistance (15% weighting)
  • Weight (10% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Our expert panel of testers is led by Ryan Huetter, a full-time AMGA/IFMGA certified mountain guide with a bachelor's degree in Outdoor Adventure Management. Ryan uses hiking boots (a crucial professional tool) extensively, hitting the trail almost daily and logging thousands of trail miles in the last ten years. He is joined by Ben Applebaum-Bauch, another thoroughly seasoned backpacker and hiker. Ben has guided trips all over the Appalachian Trail, including the 100-mile Wilderness, and climbed more peaks than he's managed to count. Thanks to this impressive test team, we feel confident in our assessments and the advice we provide to help guide you to your next best hiking boot.

Running down hills felt super stable thanks to the high top support...
Running down hills felt super stable thanks to the high top support in the Kahas.
The high flood height and one piece suede leather outer kept the...
The high flood height and one piece suede leather outer kept the water from getting inside the boot.
These boots take a bit more time to break in than others, so this...
These boots take a bit more time to break in than others, so this 25-mile hike was a bit much for them right out of the box.
We put each pair of boots to the test, tackling everything from mountains to water and many miles in between.

Analysis and Test Results


We believe that all good hiking boots can be effectively assessed using six key traits, as outlined below. We developed a scoring system based on weighted metrics to rate each boot objectively. After spending countless hours hiking in each model and taking diligent notes about their performance, we tally up the scores to give you a clear understanding of each model's performance. Boots that score well across all metrics are given top awards, while others may do admirably in one or two categories and are awarded for their specialized performance.


Value


Value is an important aspect to consider, as you want to get the best boot that will suit your needs for the lowest price. We think of value in terms of how much performance you get for each dollar spent. There are some very competitively-priced boots in our review, some of which also score impressively well.

hiking boots men - with a waterproof exterior found on the merrell moab 3 waterproof...
With a waterproof exterior found on the Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof, we worry less about precarious stream crossings like this one.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

We find that as price increases, the best gains come in the support and durability metrics. You'll pay more for high-quality materials that are well crafted, and these boots usually last longer. You can get a good boot that will provide stability for a reasonable price, but we found the most expensive boots in our review to be the best at tackling rough off-trail, especially with lots of weight in your pack. For instance, the Scarpa Zodiac is really expensive but also perfectly suited to cross-country hiking and peak-bagging. That said, if you want to spend a lot less, the Merrell Moab 3 delivers solid all-around performance for a very reasonable price, as does the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4.

hiking boots men - ready to put down some miles? we hiked hundreds of them to test...
Ready to put down some miles? We hiked hundreds of them to test these boots for you.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


The most critical factor when deciding on a hiking boot is comfort. Gone are the days of painfully breaking in heavy leather boots. With many more synthetic materials being utilized today, hikers can choose from a wider range of boots with much better comfort in the uppers and more cushioned midsoles. With an ever-growing number of hikers questing on many of our nation's popular thru-hikes, a comfy pair of boots is the first step in preparing for such an endeavor. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 is comfortable for a midweight boot and feels great from day one, requiring no break-in period, as is the Merrell Moab 3 Mid. We love the fit and feel of the leather upper on the Hoka models like the Kaha 2 and the Anacapa 2 Mid, though they took a few hikes to break them in so that the leather was adequately pliable. The lightest models, such as the Lone Peak All WTHR Mid 2, are unbelievably comfortable on firm trails and paved paths. However, the weight savings derived from a thinner sole means that foot comfort is compromised while on uneven and rocky terrain.


We noted three primary attributes when considering comfort:

Footbed Feel


How does the boot feel when laced up and standing? When laced, are there any pressure points, and how large is the toe box? When you step on that pointy rock on the trail, does your foot feel it? After several hours of hiking, which models still made our feet feel great? The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 and Merrell Moab 3 Mid are among the most comfortable straight out of the box. The Hoka Kaha 2 did the best job keeping our feet happy after many miles and hours with a moderate pack thanks to a solid 2-inch plush dual-density foam midsole, though many other models were not far behind. For those who already like or are intrigued by zero-drop footwear or favor a wider-fitting boot, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR is a super comfortable option in this niche category.

hiking boots men - altra boots are perfect for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who value...
Altra boots are perfect for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who value comfort and a natural foot position. They are great for folks looking to try out a zero-drop design.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

It is worth spending the time to find out a bit more about your own feet, as we all have different foot volume and arch height, and these traits change as we age. Certain models fit low, medium, or high-volume feet the best. Insole thickness and shape will also have much to do with initial comfort impressions. Sometimes, that space can be reduced or filled with an aftermarket insole, though we tend to recommend finding a boot that fits as well as possible first and then fine-tuning the fit as necessary.

hiking boots men - we want a boot to make our feet feel comfortable when walking on...
We want a boot to make our feet feel comfortable when walking on these types of trails.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Ankle Collar and Lacing System


We noted the number and type of lacing eyelets, how the heel box holds the back of the foot, and whether there was any slippage. The Salomon models feature our favorite lacing systems. The fit and construction of the ankle collar are super important when logging many miles or traveling steep grades. The Merrell Moab 3 has a shorter cut with less ankle protection but is still quite comfortable. The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid has a high, 5-inch ankle collar made of flexible foam panels and provides comfortable support on par with some of the best boots in the review. Some boots have more minimalist padding that gains rigidity after compression (lacing the boots up snugly), while others offer more padding. This padding may be uncomfortable or tight initially but can pack out over time, which our testers noted and described in the individual reviews.

The Active Support wings found on the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex wrap snugly around the foot to produce a very stable fit when secured with the laces.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Breathability


Blisters form due to heat and friction, and damp skin has lots of friction. Hikers have developed many tricks and techniques to keep blisters at bay, including Mole Skin, duct tape, and foot powder. Our perspective? Choose a boot with better breathability from the get-go. Wearing boots with a waterproof membrane (even a breathable one) always limits the ventilation ability of the footwear.

hiking boots men - our testers put each model through the wringer, measuring their...
Our testers put each model through the wringer, measuring their level of breathability in all types of terrains and climates.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Overall, the Salomon and Hoka models are comfort champs, thanks to their soft and flexible materials that still impart good stability.

Support


The biggest reason to wear a hiking boot rather than a trail runner or a hiking shoe is for increased stability. The higher the ankle is cut, the more resistance the boot will provide to rolling ankles. These boots also have thicker and more supportive soles, giving added protection against sharp rocks, a notable weakness in lighter shoes. Looking at support, our review team considers torsional stability in the sole, height, and security of the ankle cuff, plus the width of the sole and stiffness below the footbed to determine the rating for this metric. This review covers boots that barely rise above the ankle to much taller ones that provide unparalleled ankle support. Your needs may not require the full-on stability of a high-top model, and a mid-cut boot may give a better blend of flexibility, mobility, and support.


Also, consider that for many lighter-weight models, such as the Altra Lone Peak, the boot's stability relies upon the compression gained from a sound lacing system. Soft and supple materials that do not have much structural integrity on their own become more rigid and supportive when wrapped tight around the ankle. Other boots, like the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid and Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof, have thick leather that offers much more structural support. For those who are experiencing the aches and pains of life on the trail, such as those hiking in retirement, stability will be an essential asset.

In addition to the many miles we hiked, we took a couple of measurements to quantify how well each product supports the ankle and resists lateral rolling. First, we measured the height of the ankle collar from the footbed to its tallest point of the instep. The Salomon Quest 4 has one of the tallest ankle collars at 8 inches, with the Hoka Kaha 2 just behind it at 7.5 inches tall. We also measured the width of the sole at the forefoot. A wide forefoot provides a more stable platform and resists rolling in lots of terrain. In contrast, a snug and narrow fit can be even better when tackling technical off-trail travel, as we found when testing the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II .

The tall ankle height on the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX ensures you maintain stability when traveling at speed over rocky, uneven terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Finally, we grabbed the sole by the heel and toe and twisted it side to side to get an idea of torsional stability, which is the boot's ability to resist the twisting of the sole on uneven surfaces. Better torsional stability reduces foot fatigue on rough terrain, especially when carrying a load. Overall, we awarded the Salomon Quest 4 a top score in this metric. It ticked all the boxes (tall ankle collar, wide forefoot, torsional rigidity) in the lab and gave us tons of confidence to speed through rough terrain. The Lowa Renegade also received accolades in this metric, which is no surprise thanks to its plastic/urethane shank. Also notable are the Scarpa Zodiac Plus and La Sportiva Trango Tech.

hiking boots men - hiking through the bog was a great way to test for support and...
Hiking through the bog was a great way to test for support and stability in slippery conditions while wearing the Salomon Quest 4D boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Traction


Traction is one of the most important aspects of a hiking boot, but a lot goes into determining what qualifies as good traction. There are a few things to consider regarding a boot's ability to keep from slipping. The amount of stiffness that a boot offers, usually in the form of a shank, gives it more purchase when you can only get the toe of your foot onto an edge or if you need to kick steps up loose scree or snow. Secondly, the type of rubber compound used will impact how well the sole grips. Softer rubber will smear and deform against a smooth granite slab, though this softer rubber will suffer longer-term durability issues. Harder rubber won't smear nearly as well, though it will give more bite into soft slopes and resist wear. Lastly, we consider the tread shape and patterning. Shallow lugs, the “teeth” on the bottom of the sole, will give more surface area contact and engage better with smooth terrain, while deeper and more spread out lugs will grip better in mud and snow, making them better for off-trail use.


During our backcountry exploits across various terrains, we tested for traction on wet and dry trails, damp and dry rock, snow, and mud. It should come as no surprise that the models made by the companies known for their quality rock climbing footwear rose to the top regarding traction. The Scarpa Zodiac Plus came in at the top of the pack in this category, though the La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX is nearly as capable and flexes slightly better in the forefoot, making it the better choice for smearing on rock slabs.

hiking boots men - the nucleo offers surefootedness on all types of terrain thanks to...
The Nucleo offers surefootedness on all types of terrain thanks to its deep lugs and innovative impact brake system.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Moving on to loose terrain, we tested these boots in off-trail travel on High Sierra backpacking routes, alpine climbing approaches, and descents. We found a narrower midsole offered better edging performance on looser ground, rolling over less when plowing through scree and hopping over talus. Our favorite pair to take into the boulder fields and scree slopes were the Zodiac Plus boots, with their blend of stiffness and a nimble sole. It is perhaps the best boot in this review for technical rock climbing, with a sticky climbing zone on the toe and a sole that easily ascends steep rock.

hiking boots men - from desert trails to the tops of tall mountains, where will your...
From desert trails to the tops of tall mountains, where will your hiking boots take you? These Scarpa Zodiacs are up to the task.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

With a deep snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, we had many opportunities to test these boots in snow and mud. The best performers had stiffer soles for edging and serrated lugs to kick steps in mature summer snow and dislodge mud. The Quest 4 was a favorite of testers, followed by the Scarpa Zodiac yet again.

While these are different traction scenarios, we assigned all the products an overall traction score. Several boots stood out with admirable performances in this area, including the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX, Hoka Kaha 2 GTX, Arc'teryx Acrux TR GTX, and Keen Targhee III Mid. We discuss how each one performed during the traction tests in their respective reviews, as some sole types were high performers in certain terrains but did not compete as well in a broader range of environments.

hiking boots men - tried and true in real terrain, this is the environment where the...
Tried and true in real terrain, this is the environment where the Zodiac is all about business.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


We all want dry feet when hiking. Dry feet are key to avoiding blisters and staying warm when walking in the cold and wet. And wet feet are far from comfortable. Almost all of our test models feature some waterproof/breathable fabric membrane. Most models use a Gore-Tex or eVent brand membrane, while Keen, Merrell, Timberland, and Lowa use proprietary membranes. Only one boot, the Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof, used no waterproof/breathable membrane at all. Instead, it used a waterproof leather upper to keep water out.


First, we measured what we call the “flood level” of each boot. A typical design feature of hiking boots is a gusseted or bellows tongue. Gussets keep rocks and debris from entering the shoe, and the waterproof membrane extends through this gusset for protection. We measured the depth of water we could wade into with each boot before it flooded in over the top. The overall top-scoring Nucleo High II comes in with a height of 6.75 inches.

hiking boots men - stream crossings were absolutely no problem with the la sportiva...
Stream crossings were absolutely no problem with the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX. We even made a point of standing still in the running water to see how our feet fared and they stayed dry every time.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Second, we took each boot through a stream test. Fording a stream is a better test than standing around in the water, a task a rain boots would be best suited for. There were varying degrees of performance. Taking the top spots are the La Sportiva Nucleo High II and Lowa Renegade, followed by the Salomon Quest 4, Hoka Kaha 2, Scarpa Zodiac, and others. Despite their name, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof was the least impressive pair when it came to keeping our toes dry.

hiking boots men - even though there is a lot of mesh in the upper, the waterproof...
Even though there is a lot of mesh in the upper, the waterproof lining of the Merrell Moab 3 kept our feet dry while walking through this swampy meadow.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

No waterproof membrane protects the foot and can withstand continuous exposure to water. All will eventually wet out, so we also considered the ability of the boot to dry out once fully inundated. The best performer here was the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR. Due to the thin all-synthetic materials used in its construction, this boot dried out very quickly after being fully submerged in water. The Salomon X Ultra 4 was also notable in this metric, with a PU leather upper that resisted inundation and quickly dried after being submerged.

The Gore-Tex design of Salomon's X Ultra Mid 4 make easy work of stream crossings in the Pacific Northwest.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


Weight is a factor to consider when choosing a hiking boot, as it translates directly into efficiency. It will be more efficient to lift less weight with each step over the course of a hike (for day hikes, this is estimated at between 6,300 and 10,500 steps on average). That makes intuitive sense, though there is a limit to how much weight savings a boot can have before you find a decrease in stability and performance on more aggressive terrain. We give this metric 15% of our total scoring, recognizing that it is important but shouldn't be the determining factor in choosing a boot.


The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex is almost the lightest product we tested at 1.85 pounds for a US men's size 11 — a weight unheard of just a few years ago in this category. The Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 is a smidge lighter at 1.83 pounds, giving those who want a wider fit another excellent lightweight option. There are certainly some trade-offs to going with the lightest possible boot, namely support and durability. We loved the Keen Zionic Waterproof Mid, as it was one of only three boots to be under 2 pounds, but the sacrifice in support was too great for us to recommend it for more than just on-trail use. Think of these boots as a bridge between heavy-duty boots and more minimal hiking shoes. We found a lot of really capable contenders around the 2-pound mark, namely the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II, which is light enough but gives up nothing in performance.

hiking boots men - hovering just above the 2 pound mark, these ultra raptors hardly...
Hovering just above the 2 pound mark, these Ultra Raptors hardly weigh you down and provide lots of usefulness for that extra weight.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Those with stronger ankles and more backpacking experience can often get away with a lighter-weight hiking boot, provided they are not carrying loads more than about 30 pounds. For beginner and intermediate backpackers, especially those hauling considerable weight, burlier mid and high-top boots will be the safest option.

hiking boots men - bounding over talus on a long hike to a remote peak, lightweight...
Bounding over talus on a long hike to a remote peak, lightweight models like the Salomon X Ultra 4 boots are more nimble and responsive than bulkier, heavier boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Durability


No footwear will last forever unless it just hangs out in your closet. But since you want to actually go hiking, we must acknowledge the many factors that will shorten your boot's lifespan. Synthetic uppers will fray and develop holes from rubbing, leather materials can crack and decay without proper care, soles and rubber toe bumpers will delaminate, and the midsole will pack out and become soft and less supportive over time and use. Materials, price/quality of construction, and use will all affect a boot's durability. Boots that will last the longest will also be some of the heaviest, most expensive, and likely not be the most comfortable, while the lightest models will be the first to see early retirement.


We were happy to find that most of the models in this review held up well through the months-long testing period. No boot suffered damage to the point of losing function. That said, we expect any hiking boots within the price range of these models to last at least a couple of seasons. Materials used vary from mesh to full-grain leather, and we found that the less reliant on synthetic materials a boot is, the better it would perform when pitted against rough wear. Throughout our hiking experience, we consistently find that lighter-weight boots, utilizing lightweight materials, often begin breaking down ahead of the heavier-duty models we have tested. It's a general rule but one worth considering when assessing long-term value.

We have included additional updates for durability where appropriate on models that our testers have loved and decided to keep and wear for longer than the normal testing period, but it should be noted that just because these boots have shown signs of wear and tear, they are not necessarily less durable than boots which were only tested during the review period

No boot is immune to damage, but the Hoka Anacapa 2 Mid GTX and the Timberland Mt. Maddsen stood out as the most durable pieces we reviewed, thanks to their reliance on thick leather outers rather than flimsy synthetic materials. We also really liked the nubuck leather uppers on the Kaha 2 GTX and Anacapa 2 Mid GTX. It is a lighter and thinner grade of leather but still holds up much better than a piece of mesh. We assigned durability just 10% of the overall score, admitting that a season of testing is a short amount of time to flush out the exact differences in longevity.

hiking boots men - the full leather upper of the timberland mt. maddsen mid should do...
The full leather upper of the Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid should do well over time resisting wear and tear.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Conclusion


Deciding what kind of footwear to put on your feet is one of the most vital considerations when heading out hiking. For lightweight trips with less pack weight, many are finding that switching to trail running shoes will improve performance without significantly impacting comfort and support. However, hiking boots are still the way to go for those who want to engage with more rugged terrain, plan to carry a heavier pack, or just want the additional support gained with a taller ankle cuff. We have come a long way since the heavy, all-leather models of yesterday and now have many lightweight and synthetic models to choose from, some that fit just as comfortably as a pair of running shoes. We have spent hundreds of hours walking in these boots to write in-depth reviews to make this choice easier for you.

hiking boots men - we hope this extensive review helps you find the perfect boots and...
We hope this extensive review helps you find the perfect boots and allows for many miles of happy trails in them.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Looking for more expert hiking reviews? We have tested dozens of hiking essentials, from the best trekking poles to top-of-the-line GPS watches to the best men's flip flops for relaxing when you get to camp.

Ryan Huetter and Ben Applebaum-Bauch