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10 Best Hiking Boots of 2023

We've tested hiking boots from Salomon, La Sportiva, Merrell, Altra, Hoka, and more to find the best gear for day trips and backpacking adventures...
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10 Best Hiking Boots of 2023
A selection of hiking boots we've tested over the years.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Our Top Picks

Tuesday March 14, 2023
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Need a new hiking boot? After earning our blisters with a decade of testing the best men's hiking boots and the best women's hiking boots, we have some excellent recommendations. We spent hundreds of hours on the trail breaking in each product. We designed tests to assess performance for comfort, support, traction, water resistance, weight, and durability. We compared materials and construction, dunked each underwater, and weighed each boot on our scales. After trekking hundreds of miles over the years, we know hiking boots. Whether heading into the backcountry for the weekend, or spending months on the trail we'll help you find what you need.

We tested a variety of boots and shoes for hiking. If you prefer a lighter shoe for hiking, a trail runner or one of our favorite hiking shoes might be a better match. Whatever you're looking for, we've probably tested it and can point you in the right direction.

Editor's Note: This hiking boot review was published on March 14, 2023, with updates to award winners.

Related: Best Hiking Boots for Men
Related: Best Hiking Boots for Women

Best Overall Men's Hiking Boot

Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex

Width options: Regular | Upper: Nubuck leather and textile
Very comfortable
Agile yet burly
Very water resistant
Excellent stability
Long-term durability issues along the seams
Bulky and heavy
Not ideal for light hiking

The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex remains our top choice for many reasons. This boot is ideal for long adventures on the most technical and demanding trails. It is top-notch, offering an excellent blend of stability and comfort, fit for tromping through all kinds of conditions. The beefy lugs bite down on all surfaces, offering traction on slippery steep trails and rocky river crossings. If you're in the market for a well-rounded boot that'll offer comfort and stability while shouldering a heavy pack, this top contender is the way to go.

While the Quest 4 is stable and protective, it is heavy for a hiker. It also does not breathe or release heat as readily as we'd wish. While it can function as a casual daily hiker, it's truly built for taking on technical surfaces and tricky conditions. If you're seeking the best when it comes to a traditional hiking boot, this is our favorite option.

Read more: Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex review

hiking boots - comfortable and secure, the salomon quest 4 gore-tex offers...
Comfortable and secure, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex offers stability on tough surfaces and is built for long adventures. It's a favorite across most of the metrics and our top recommendation.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Overall Women's Hiking Boot

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX - Women's

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: AirMesh, TPU, microfiber
Excellent comfort
Breathable and lightweight
Long lugs with excellent traction
Lacks support in comparison to other hiking boots
Sizing runs small

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is our favorite hiking boot for women. It earns top marks in almost all categories, making it one of the most balanced hikers we've ever tested. It's rugged, durable, lightweight, and incredibly comfortable. The 5-inch shaft offers a surprising level of stability for its design, fit to take on technical surfaces. It features a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane with a breathable design. The deep lugs do well on everything from rock slabs to sloppy steeps, making it a trustworthy and versatile option for most terrain. It's an excellent option for any day trip or backpacking adventure.

While we appreciate the lightweight design of this trail runner-like hiking boot, it's not nearly as stable as other midweight boots. It also fits a little small, so we recommend sizing up. It truly shines as a protective and lightweight hiking boot that sacrifices a little bit of stability. It can take on all sorts of weather and is suited for long backpacking adventures as well as day trips.

Read more: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX review

Gore-tex technology keeps our feet warm and dry during this submersion test.
Credit: Lisa Coleman

Best Bang for the Buck - Men's

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: Suede leather, mesh
Low cost
Comfort straight out of the box
Traction is poor in mud
Heavy for the size

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof is a great deal that'll get you out on the trails in most conditions. This water-resistant suede boot is incredibly comfortable, and the break-in period almost non-existent. It is as supportive as you'd expect a hiking boot to be with solid underfoot construction. It's an excellent option for beginners and experts alike who are looking for a boot that'll deliver great performance at a decent value.

While we appreciate the comfort and performance this boot offers, it has a few limitations. First, while the Vibram sole sticks well to dry and technical surfaces, the lugs do not have the appropriate spacing between them to shed mud easily. As a result, they are not recommended for super muddy or sloppy conditions. Additionally, the design is a little heavier than other lightweight boots. Overall, it is a high-value option that'll keep you comfortable and protected for most outdoor adventures.

Read more: Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof review

hiking boots - while tromping through this swampy meadow, the merrell moab 3 keeps...
While tromping through this swampy meadow, the Merrell Moab 3 keeps our feet dry with its waterproof lining. This high-value hiking boot will accompany you on the trail through all sorts of tough conditions.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Bang for Your Buck - Women's

Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP - Women's

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: Leather and mesh
Great ankle padding and comfort
Mesh vents are very breathable
Good water resistance
Lacks support for long hikes and backpacking trips
Lacing system has questionable durability

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP - Women's offers excellent value across the board. Designed as a day hiker and moderate backpacking boot, it can go with you on most adventures. It features a comfortable and easy-to-break-in design and generous padding in the ankle shaft. It has excellent durability with several mesh panels spaced between the leather infrastructure. The new and improved Vibram sole offers sufficient traction on all types of trail surfaces, making it a great high-value option for most adventures.

While we love the value and comfort of this boot, we don't love the lacing system, which lacks durability. In addition, the boot is heavier than many of its rivals. Still, it functions well for most adventures, including backpacking, with a lower impact on your wallet than most other hiking boots on the market.

Read more: Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP review

Uneven surfaces like down trees provide excellent testing grounds for support and traction.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Best for Wide Feet - Men's

Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: eVent fabric
Super comfortable
Wide fit
Not as supportive as rigid boots
Lacks durability

Standing out as a wide, minimalist hiking boot, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 is a top choice for those seeking a wider toe box for long days in the backcountry. The foot box shape, unique to the Altra shoe brand, is wide enough to allow your toes to splay out with lots of room to wiggle around. Its high ankle cuff offers stability so you can move with confidence over technical terrain. If you're looking for a lightweight hiking boot suited for a wide foot that's an excellent pick for fast and light backpacking, this is our top recommendation.

While this boot is flexible and lightweight, it's not the most durable or stable option we've tested. The lighter materials have proven to wear down more quickly than other boots with a leather construction. Another consideration is the zero-drop design, which takes some time to get used to. But if you're in search of a lightweight, flexible, and comfortable hiking boot suited for wide feet, this is our favorite choice.

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

Sloshing through deep puddles was a great place to have the mid-top Altra ALL WTHR boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best for Wide Feet - Women's

Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 - Women's

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: eVent fabric
Wide toe box
Lightweight design
Excellent padding and ankle support
Fantastic traction
Zero-drop design may take an adjustment period
Not as durable as other hiking boots

Our panel of hiking experts agrees that the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 - Women's is a fantastic option for wide feet. It features a durable lacing system, thicker cushioning underfoot, with traction that performs in wet and dry weather. It's a favorite for wide feet because it has a unique toe box that allows your toes to splay and wiggle freely while hiking. It offers the fit and flexibility of a running shoe, but with a little more support to shoulder a heavy pack.

While the Altra ALL-WTHR is lightweight, it is not nearly as durable as other leather hiking boots. The mesh materials and cushioning underfoot have a history of wearing and breaking down after fewer miles than a traditional hiking boot. Additionally, the zero-drop design requires an adjustment period. If your top priority, though, is a wide fit, comfortable design, and excellent cushioning underfoot, you should consider this boot. It's a favorite amongst thru-hikers and fast packers where weight and comfort are imperative considerations.

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

This boot lives up to its name by providing protection against rain, snow, and mud; otherwise known as all-weather.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Best Cushioned Boot for Men & Women

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX - All Gender

Width options: Regular | Upper: Nubuck leather
Plush and comfortable midsole
Sticky outsole
Waterproof and durable design
Not as breathable
Thicker soles take an adjustment period

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX - All Gender offers superior comfort for all humans, with over two inches of foam stacked into its midsole. It is one of the thickest models we have tested, easily providing a smooth landing surface every time. It is surprisingly stable (for its stack height), with rigid ankle support to prevent unsuspected turns or twists. The 5mm lugs and sticky rubber holds well on tricky surfaces. It also offers a surprising amount of water protection, and the reinforced leather upper resists scuffs and scratches. Hands down, this boot offers the best cushioning on the market and should be considered if comfort is your top priority.

While the thick cushioning underfoot is heavenly, there is an adjustment period to get used to wearing them. When hiking over rocky terrain, we had to train ourselves to lift our feet just a little higher to avoid unsuspected trips. Additionally, while the upper offers superior waterproofing, it isn't very breathable. If ample cushioning and excellent underfoot protection are your priority, this is our recommendation for all humans.

Read more: Hoka Kaha 2 GTX-All Gender review

This boot represents the epitome of all day comfort.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Best Waterproof Boot for Men

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX

Width options: Regular and wide | Upper: Nubuck leather
Watertight construction
Specific fit
Excellent on sloppy surfaces
Less support in the cuff
More difficult to lace up

If you live in a wet climate or prefer a precipitous hike to dry conditions, consider the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX. This waterproof boot beats out the competition when it comes to performance in wet conditions. We tested it by hiking in the rain and trudging through rivers. The gusseted tongue and Nubuck leather construction do well to keep water out, keeping your socks dry. Not only that, but it offers a superior level of comfort and support. The deep lugs are sticky, holding well on sloppy and dry surfaces. Even with these heavyweight features, it is a relatively light boot, making it a great option for all types of adventures in wet (or dry) conditions.

That said, we wish this boot offered a bit more stability. The upper cuff around the ankle is not very rigid, which translates to less stability on uneven surfaces. Additionally, it is difficult to insert the lace into the eyelets of the boot, meaning it takes more time to lace up and release. If you're seeking a bombproof boot for water or snow, this is the one you should check out.

Read more: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX review

hiking boots - the la sportiva nucleo high ii gtx is our top choice for wet...
The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is our top choice for wet conditions. If you find yourself in snow, rain, or crossing a lot of streams, this is the boot to consider.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Waterproof Boot for Women

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's

Width optional: Regular and wide | Upper: Nubuck Leather
Fantastic waterproofing
Construction is durable
Lacks breathability

For ladies seeking a hiking boot that does well in wet environments, the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's features some of the best waterproofing on the market. Built with a Nubuck leather exterior, waterproof ventilation, and a gusseted tongue, it has proven to keep feet dry in the wettest conditions. The construction is incredibly durable, showing little wear and tear after our testing period. It offers a comfortable fit and a short break-in period. It's a wonderful option for any adventure in wet (or dry) conditions.

While this boot is waterproof, it's not very breathable. In addition, its waterproofing elements make it heavier in comparison to other lightweight options on the market. If your primary interest is withstanding wet conditions, we recommend the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GEX.

Read more: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX review

hiking boots - the la sportiva nucleo high ii gtx offers unparalleled waterproof...
The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX offers unparalleled waterproof protection, standing out from the rest of the competition.
Credit: Steve Mace

hiking boots - we take our testing seriously, hiking to some of the most beautiful...
We take our testing seriously, hiking to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Here, we test the Merrell Moab 3 on a day hike to a beautiful alpine lake.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Why You Should Trust Us

After perusing the market and researching over 80 potential options, we chose over 30 contenders that offer the best performance. To provide an unbiased review, we purchased all products directly from the retailer. After they arrived on our doorstep, we did the dirty work, breaking in each pair and taking to the trail. Testers wore these boots for more than 560 collective miles, with over 400 hours of field time while hiking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, and backpacking through many different conditions. We spent time in all kinds of weather, from hot, sunny days to snow squalls to heavy downpours. During this testing period, our team kept detailed notes about the performance of each boot after each hike and after completing a series of objective tests. Award winners were carefully determined after gathering data and after many hours of consideration. We tested women's hiking boots and men's hiking boots, with a focus on lightweight and midweight designs, suitable for all seasons.

Hiking boots were tested across 6 test metrics including:
  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Traction
  • Water Resistance
  • Weight
  • Durability

Our team of experts has spent countless days trekking around the world, over all types of terrain, in all sorts of weather, all in the name of testing the best hiking boots on the market. Leading the men's hiking boot review is Ryan Huetter and Ben Applebaum-Bauch. Both are avid guides that love long trails. They've put these boots to the test on trails like the Pacific Crest Trail and Colorado Trail. Our women's hiking boot leads are Jane Jackson and Trish Matheny. Jane has put hundreds of miles in her boots, hiking in beautiful places from the altitudes of the Himalayas to the long trails circumnavigating the granite mountains in the Western United States. Trish has spent much of the last 15 years in the backcountry. She has worked and played on dusty, muddy, and rocky trails across the United States with hiking boots in tow. Collectively, our hiking team has logged hunderds of hours of trail time, testing in trying terrain to see how each boot performs.

Contragrip soles increase performance when moving over a wide...
Contragrip soles increase performance when moving over a wide variety of surfaces, but this design wasn't as successful as others we've tested from Salomon.
This lightweight hiking boot, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid...
This lightweight hiking boot, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid, shows some of the lowest numbers on our scale.
The Moab 3 provides all-day protection and comfort, even when hiking...
The Moab 3 provides all-day protection and comfort, even when hiking through thick, muddy conditions.

How to Choose Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are best for adventurers seeking footwear that offers protection and stability on the trail. With such a wide variety of options on the market, searching for a pair that will best suit your needs might seem a little daunting. With our experience, we can help you find exactly what you're looking for. To begin, there are various factors to consider when choosing the best boot for you, including how you will use the boot, the type of boot you need, its fit and design, and how long the break-in period may last. Taking these considerations to heart will help steer you in the right direction to finding your best boot for hiking. Let's dive in.

hiking boots - choosing a pair of hiking boots requires considering where you'll be...
Choosing a pair of hiking boots requires considering where you'll be hiking and what you demand from your boot in terms of performance.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Intended Usage

What will you be using your hiking boot for? There are a variety of different options out there, but narrowing them down by identifying your intended use is the first step. Are you planning on just day hiking, or will you be backpacking as well? What types of terrain will you be hiking? How does your boot need to perform? Does it need to be breathable or waterproof? These are the types of questions to ask before your search begins, which will help to steer you in the right direction.

Day Hikes

When you're heading out for a day hike, the type of footwear you choose depends on the intensity of the hike, how technical it is, and how much weight you are carrying. In some cases, a lightweight hiking boot with minimal ankle support may be all you need. The lighter materials used in lightweight boots make them more flexible and breathable. They also have enough comfort and support to carry substantial loads or just a day pack. Most offer more stability than a hiking shoe or trail runner, but they aren't as heavy as a midweight hiking boot. If you prefer more stability, even for day hikes, you might want to consider a midweight boot.

hiking boots - one of our testers heads out into the backcountry on a long day trip...
One of our testers heads out into the backcountry on a long day trip with a small, but heavier pack in tow.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Moderate Backpacking Over Rugged Terrain

Backpacking all of your gear into a campsite for the night can be strenuous, but made easier by footwear that has a little more stability, especially around the ankle. For any moderate backpacking adventure, a midweight boot is recommended. This type of boot has stability on unstable surfaces without being too heavy. This is helpful when shouldering a heavy pack for a couple of days. A lightweight boot can also function for moderate backpacking adventures. However, with larger loads, you might find your feet getting a little more beat up than they would in a more rigid midweight boot.

Factors to Consider

Not only do you need to consider the length of time you'll be wearing your boots, but also the conditions. This includes the climate, temperature, surfaces, and steepness of the trail. If you prefer easy hikes on flat terrain, a lightweight hiking boot should be fine. But, if you often take on steep and technical trails with talus fields, you might want to consider a more stable design. Let's look deeper at waterproofing, traction, ability to breath, and weight.


Many people opt for hiking boots instead of hiking shoes because they have some level of water resistance or waterproofing. If you find yourself hiking in wet weather, look for a boot that integrates a seamless design, waterproof or Gore-Tex membrane, and leather construction. An extra plus is a gusseted tongue which will protect better during river crossings.

hiking boots - planning a hike in a precipitous part of the country or with...
Planning a hike in a precipitous part of the country or with multiple creek crossings? The La Sportiva Nucleo is a top choice for waterproof protection for its ability to repel water.
Credit: Steve Mace


When you're out on the trail, you'll encounter many different surfaces. Wet, dry, steep, and flat — they will vary. For example, in dry conditions, kitty litter gravel over rock can cause unsuspected slips when the trails are steep. Steep slabs can also be treacherous, especially if a boot can't grip the rock. In both cases, a soft, sticky rubber with evenly-spaced lugs is preferred.

If you encounter wet conditions, like slippery rocks, mud, ice, or snow, you'll want to look for a combination of deeper lugs that are well-spaced and a sticky rubber that doesn't get too hard in colder temperatures. The spacing of the lugs will help shed mud and snow more easily. The deeper lugs will help bite down on the trail, especially when traveling up or downhill. Regardless of the specific conditions, think about the surfaces you'll be hiking on and then look at the design and construction of the outsole to ensure it'll do what you need it to on your adventures.

hiking boots - a sticky rubber sole provides great traction for loose kitty litter...
A sticky rubber sole provides great traction for loose kitty litter that is found abundantly in the Sierra Nevada.
Credit: Alexa Flower


A boot that can breathe is important, especially in hot weather. Without breathability, a hiking boot can turn a dry sock into a wet one. Look for breathable panels that also protect from small particulates. If you find yourself hiking in warmer conditions, look for a light design. A hiking shoe or trail running shoe is also a nice alternative for a hiking boot in hot weather, as long as you're okay with less stability through the ankle and body of the boot.

hiking boots - breathable panels and lighter materials will add to the...
Breathable panels and lighter materials will add to the breathability of any hiking boot.
Credit: Trish Matheny


When hiking, a lighter boot is the most common preference for most people. Who doesn't like to feel light? It means you can go a little further, and the hike always seems that much more enjoyable. We recommend looking for a pair of boots that is less than four pounds. Anything heavier will seem strenuous to hike in, especially if you just intend to go out for the day. When you're doing your research on different products, be sure to check out the weight specs to see how each boot measures up.

Types of Hiking Boots

We've been discussing several different types of hiking boots, so let's take the time to define each. In this section, we'll cover lightweight hikers, midweight hikers, and heavyweight hikers. In addition, we'll discuss hiking shoes and trail runners, as these are common substitutes.

Lightweight Hikers

In our review, we opted to test many lightweight hikers that weigh between one to three pounds per pair. These typically have a low to mid-cut, not rising more than 4-5 inches. These types of boots have a lower ankle height with thinner, more flexible fabrics. These designs have often done away with stability elements, such as rigid shanks embedded in the midsole. They also tend to have more flexible cuffs around the ankle, so there's not as much ankle support as you might encounter with a midweight or heavyweight hiking boot. This category of boot is best for those that prefer a boot that is light on the trail, trading off stability around the ankle. If you don't care too much for stability around the ankle, you should also consider a hiking shoe or trail running shoe as an alternative to a lightweight hiking boot.

hiking boots - a selection of lightweight hiking boots that weigh two pounds or...
A selection of lightweight hiking boots that weigh two pounds or less per shoe (size 11, men's). Notice the lighter, more flexible construction.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Hiking Shoes

So what's the difference between a hiking shoe and a hiking boot? The biggest difference is ankle stability. Hiking shoes do not have high cuff ankle support, whereas a hiking boot will. Many of the design elements—including the stability elements, waterproofing, and traction design—can be the same. Hiking shoes are also typically quite durable, with better breathability and lower weight than most hiking boots. These are a great option if you don't care too much about ankle support but still want a supportive and stable shoe for exploring the outdoors.

hiking boots - a hiking shoe is a great alternative to a hiking boot. they offer...
A hiking shoe is a great alternative to a hiking boot. They offer excellent stability and durability, just without the extra ankle support.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Trail Runners

If you want to go even lighter, with even fewer stability elements, a trail runner is your best best. While there is a huge range of trail runners, many options offer stability elements, similar to a hiking shoe, but with upper materials that are typically more flexible. Of the footwear options for hiking, trail runners are the most lightweight contenders (outside of sandals) with the least amount of stability. That said, there are incredibly stable trail runners on the market that mimic a lightweight hiking boot or shoe. If you don't require your footwear to cover the ankle, and you prefer lighter shoes, then you might want to take a look at our trail running shoe review to scope out the different options on the market.

hiking boots - the s/lab ultra 3 is one of the most refined trails running shoes on...
The S/Lab Ultra 3 is one of the most refined trails running shoes on the market. Not only is it excellent for running, but it performs well as a hiker as well.
Credit: Andy Wellman

Midweight Hikers

A traditional hiker is a midweight hiking boot. It is what you might think about when you think about boots for hiking. Typically weighing between two to four pounds per pair, they rise between 4-5 inches on the ankle. They are usually more rigid than a lightweight hiker but more flexible than a heavyweight boot. They offer better stability and durability than most of the lightweight hiking boots tested.

hiking boots - rough and uneven terrain, is easy in the salomon quest 4d. the...
Rough and uneven terrain, is easy in the Salomon Quest 4D. The above-average stability found in this boot makes steep or uneven surfaces seem like no trouble at all.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Designed for versatility, this type of boot is a great option for day hikes and backpacking. They are designed for carrying loads between 20 to 30 pounds across rugged terrain. They feature stiff soles, leather construction, an ankle cuff that fits well, and stability elements. Most feature breathable vents which don't allow particulates to get inside. If stability is a higher priority than weight, this is a good type of boot to consider for all types of outdoor adventures.

If you seek ankle support with lightweight construction, a midweight hiker is a fantastic choice.

Heavyweight Hikers

These burly hikers are heavy full leather hiking boots designed for off-trail explorations and mountaineering adventures. They are designed to carry a 40+ pound backpack across treacherous terrain. During this review, we didn't feature any heavyweight boots, but there are many options on the market. They are typically completely waterproof, extremely durable, and very heavy. They are built with full-grain leather and TPU midsoles, with several stability elements. They are designed to handle the roughest terrain and the most extreme conditions.

Fit and Sizing

No matter how high the ratings and how great the features, if the boot doesn't fit, it's not the right boot for you. You can premeditate all of the features you want, but until you slip it on and try it out, you won't know if it's the right one for you. When considering the fit of a boot, make sure you do your research, especially when shopping online.

hiking boots - finding the right fit is imperative for preparing for the trail. the...
Finding the right fit is imperative for preparing for the trail. The Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR features a uniquely wide-toe box. What kind of fit are you looking for?
Credit: Steve Mace

Before trying on a boot, be sure to grab a sock of similar thickness that you intend to hike in. This will impact the overall fit. When you slide your foot inside and lace it up, note the additional volume or wiggle room in the toe box. Notice if your toes feel cramped front to back, or side to side. If they do, you might need to size up a half size or find a different brand that is either wider or more narrow. Walk around and test out the flexibility and stability of the boot. Point your toes, go up the stairs, and walk around on unstable surfaces to see how the boot flexes or if there are any pinch points. If you require specific support, consider using insoles. Once you've found a fit that works, start getting excited, because you're on your way to buying your perfect boot.

If you're ordering online, select a retailer with a good return policy so you can return anything that isn't a good fit.

Break-in Period

After you've found your pair of hiking boots, know that they will most likely require a break-in period. Depending on the construction and materials, break-in times vary. Lightweight hikers with softer materials typically have a faster break-in period than those that use more rigid materials. Midweight hikers have the widest range of time since there are so many combinations of materials in the construction. Some, for example, might take a longer time to break in than those with a different type of leather.

Finally, remember to test your boots out on short hikes before committing to longer adventures. The boots need time to mold and shape. Even in the "right" boot, diving straight into a long, grueling hike can still lead to blisters or other issues on the trail.

hiking boots - 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


Whether you're about to embark on a life-changing thru-hike or you're taking your dog on its daily walk, a solid hiking boot should be a part of any adventurer's gear closet. There are a lot of different options to choose from, but if you take the time to consider what you will use it for, the conditions you'll be hiking, and the adventures that you'll be embarking upon, choosing a hiking boot can be fun. Luckily we've tested the best options on the market to help guide you in the right direction. Happy trails!

Ryan Huetter, Jane Jackson, Ben Applebaum-Bauch, and Trish Matheny

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