Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Hiking Shoes of 2022

We walked hundreds of miles in hiking shoes from Salomon, La Sportiva, Columbia, Keen, and others to find the perfect shoes
Best Hiking Shoes of 2022
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Monday May 16, 2022
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Hiking is our jam. We've trail-tested 45 pairs of hiking shoes in the last 9 years, and this review compares 16 of the best models available today. Our experts covered hundreds of miles in these shoes, from dry, high alpine hikes to wet and muddy paths. Day hikes and multi-day adventures informed us on key performance areas like traction, all-day comfort, support, and more to bring you relevant comparisons. In several applications, hiking shoes can be a better choice than hiking boots, but choosing the ones to suit your needs isn't a cakewalk. Our review guides you to the ideal shoe for your foot, whether you want the lightest pair, a trail-running hiker, or just a screamin' deal.

While most shoes come in women's and men's versions, they don't always perform the same for both. To address this, we conduct deep testing by women and for women in our women's hiking shoes review. We also have a number of reviews of hiking gear and backpacking gear.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on May 16, 2022, to include the following new products: the Columbia Facet 60 OutDry, Merrell Moab Speed Low, and Salomon OUTline Low GTX.

Related: Best Hiking Shoes for Women

Top 16 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 16
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $149.95 at Backcountry
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$159.00 at Amazon
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$96.93 at REI
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Overall Score
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75
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Pros Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, supportExcellent comfort and traction, waterproofSupportive, great traction, lightweightGreat traction, durable soleSecure fit, strong traction, stability
Cons Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favoriteExpensive, not the most durableStiff, lacing is hard to tightenFeel stiff, uncomfortable, hard to lace tightNarrow, tongue absorbs water
Bottom Line This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking tripsA versatile hiking shoe built with the comfort and agility of a running shoe without losing a beat in hiking prowessThis is a burly hiking shoe capable of getting off the trail and onto rugged terrainOffering stellar traction and a supportive sole, this shoe is good for off-trail travelThis comfortable and waterproof shoe has solid traction and a narrow fit
Rating Categories Salomon X Ultra 4 G... La Sportiva Spire GTX Salewa Mountain Tra... Adidas Terrex Swift... Salomon OUTline Low...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
8.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
9.0
Support (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Versatility (10%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
7.0
Water Resistance (5%) Sort Icon
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (5%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Salomon X Ultra 4 G... La Sportiva Spire GTX Salewa Mountain Tra... Adidas Terrex Swift... Salomon OUTline Low...
Weight (per pair) 1.76 lbs (size 11) 2.06 lbs (size 11) 2.16 lbs (size 11) 1.94 lbs (size 11) 1.62 lbs (size 10.5)
Upper Synthetic, textile Abrasion-resistant mesh Synthetic Synthetic, textile Waterproof textile
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex membrane Gore-Tex Surround Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Gore-Tex membrane Gore-Tex
Flood Level 3.25 in 4.75 in 3.5 in 3 in 4.25 in
Last Board/Shank ADV-C chassis Molded EVA Nylon Pro-Moderator TPU arch shank
Midsole EnergyCell 5mm Ortholite Insole, Compression Molded EVA, TPU inserts EVA EVA Injected EVA
Outsole Contagrip MA rubber Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System Pomoca MTN trainer Lite Continental Nonmarking Contagrip rubber


Best Overall Hiking Shoe


Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Support 8.0
  • Traction 9.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 1.76 lbs (size 11 US) | Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent all-around traction
Waterproof
Lightweight yet supportive
Fast and aggressive feel
REASONS TO AVOID
Quicklace lacing system might turn some off
Average durability

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex hiking shoe is built to chew up even the roughest trails you have your eyes set on. These shoes are made especially for rugged terrain where high-performance ability on various surfaces is required. Built on an AVD-C Chassis, the support offered by these low-top hikers is top-tier, and the combination of SensiFit technology and Quicklace lacing system allows the shoe to conform to your foot. By cinching and uncinching the laces, these shoes are quick to put on and take off, convenient to swiftly shake out any intruding sediment, and easy to manage when getting in and out of a tent. We love how confident our footwork feels thanks to the deep-set lugs on the outsole and what a difference solid waterproofing, thanks to a Gore-Tex membrane, can make to our hiking comfort. For all of these attributes, it is surprising that the X Ultra 4 GTX shoes come in at such a low weight, a measly 1.76 pounds. This new iteration of a well-known and well-regarded classic shaves off nearly a quarter pound per pair. As a bonus, the price tag is moderate compared to the other options available.

The Quicklace system is convenient, although we recognize that it is not everyone's cup of tea. When stowed away in their pouch, they give much less tripping hazard than laces, though we sometimes found ourselves lazily tucking them back into the laces. Over time the tab extending from the ankle of the shoe wears down, and it is a bit annoying to constantly pull it back out once we pull the shoes on. Additionally, the first time we wore these shoes, we noticed that the ankle cuff is slightly higher than on most hikers in our line-up. To reduce ankle rub, we wore thinner socks and then had no further issues. Compared to the top shoes we've tested, though, our testers are convinced that this is the most full-package, low-cut hiker on the market and readily recommend it as the best option available.

Read review: Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex

hiking shoes - best overall hiking shoe
One of the most supportive shoes in our review, we feel confident traveling over varied terrain.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Best Bang for Your Buck


Vasque Juxt


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Support 6.0
  • Traction 7.0
  • Versatility 6.0
  • Water Resistance 1.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 1.90 lbs (size 11 US) | Waterproof Lining: None, no gusseted tongue
REASONS TO BUY
Low weight and high breathability
Ideal for dry climates
Excellent price for a great shoe
REASONS TO AVOID
Not for wet environments
Vulnerable stitching

The Vasque Juxt has impressed us for years with its performance per dollar ratio. This inexpensive model is comfortable, supportive, and is a recommended shoe for those hiking in dry environments like the desert. The outsole is grippy and offers excellent traction on dry rock, and the leather upper is more durable than many synthetic materials while still maintaining a lighter-than-average weight. We love this shoe as a do-it-all day hiker for warm-weather activities like desert hiking that do not require a waterproof membrane.

We found that the Juxt has a few issues to be aware of. It is not waterproof (by design), so it should be considered for mostly dry conditions lest the unlined upper wet out. The upper is single-stitched, and we've seen some long-term durability issues that should be monitored. Otherwise, they are quite a good entry-level hiking shoe at an affordable price.

Read review: Vasque Juxt

hiking shoes - best bang for your buck
This shoe from Vasque is breathable and comfortable for nearly any day hike venture.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Best Option for Narrow Feet


Salomon OUTline Low GTX


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Support 7.0
  • Traction 7.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 1.93 lbs (size 10.5 US) | Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable
Secure fit
Breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Runs very narrow
Absorbant tongue

The Salomon OUTline Low GTX has an exceptional combination of comfort and versatility. For hikers with narrow feet, this pair is worth a strong look. Its breathable upper hugs feet securely without feeling restrictive. Despite the thin mesh upper, these Gore-Tex lined shoes are also pleasantly waterproof. They are flexible while providing just enough under-foot support. They work very well for both running and hiking.

Just as the narrow fit is an asset for those who need it, it also limits the appeal of the OUTline. You can't right-size your way into this shoe. It's either made for your foot type or it isn't. Another minor drawback is that they require a little more wiggling to get on — certainly not a dealbreaker for us — but they took notably more effort than some of the other award winners. All things considered, though, we love this pair for its sleek and lightweight combination of comfort and versatility for scrambling, running, or hiking.

Read review: Salomon OUTline Low GTX

hiking shoes - best option for narrow feet
The Salomon Outline Low GTX is a lightweight, form-fitting shoe.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Trail-to-Town Versatility


Columbia Facet 60 Outdry


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Support 8.0
  • Traction 6.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Water Resistance 5.0
  • Durability 5.0
Weight: 1.78 lbs (size 10.5 US) | Waterproof Lining: OutDry
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Good stability
Versatile styling
REASONS TO AVOID
Questionable long-term durability
Moderate water resistance

The Columbia Facet 60 OutDry is our favorite footwear for all-day versatility. Whether you are out for a day hike or trail run or need to run some errands in town, these shoes offer a superb combination of support and style that's up to the task. At well under 2 pounds, this pair is light enough to take jogging. We also love its extra-wide base, which adds stability to each step and reduces the likelihood of rolling an ankle on uneven terrain. The Facet 60 is comfortable, and the gusseted tongue makes this shoe easy to slip on from a tailgate or a tent.

There are a few details that kept this model from the very top of the category. We found that the mesh is breathable but also not totally waterproof. Though we didn't run into any issues, multiple users reported issues with durability, primarily around the adhesive between the sole and the upper. All in all, between their comfort and tennis shoe aesthetic, we would recommend this model to anyone looking for a versatile pair that they can use for activities besides just hiking.

Read Review: Columbia Facet 60 OutDry

hiking shoes - best trail-to-town versatility
The Columbia Facet 60 OutDry looks like a sneaker but performs like a hiking shoe.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for Scrambling


Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weight 5.0
  • Support 9.0
  • Traction 9.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 2.16 lbs (size 11 US) | Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent support
Traction in wet and dry conditions
Lightweight for its class
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiff
Not as well-rounded as others

The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX embodies the important elements found in a good hiking shoe. It is relatively light, hovering around 2 pounds, comfortable in all conditions, has great waterproofing, and is super durable. Our lead tester has abused his pair on long-distance trail hikes in the mountains, and in the desert, has used them as approach shoes to access rock climbing venues, and even found them to be supportive enough to be good work shoes. This is one of the best models we tested for scrambling around in the mountains, climbing off-trail, and up to summits that involve 3rd class terrain.

The Mountain Trainer is one of the stiffer soled shoes in our review, a trait that many will benefit from, but they are not nearly as flexible and easy to walk in as some of the other lighter shoes that more closely resemble a running shoe. We also find them a bit uncomfortable at first, but they are not nearly as difficult to break in as an old-school boot. These are a great choice as an all-purpose hiker, but we recommend them for those who might want to venture onto challenging off-trail routes.

Read review: Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX

hiking shoes - best for scrambling
This is one robust hiking shoe, and we love it for its ability to tackle more than just a mellow trail.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

Best for Lightweight Hiking


Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Support 5.0
  • Traction 5.0
  • Versatility 7.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 1.64 lbs (size 11 US) | Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex
REASONS TO BUY
Supremely lightweight
Reliable waterproofing
Comfortable on trail
REASONS TO AVOID
Potential long-term durability issues
Not impressive in off-trail traction

The Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX is one of the lightest hiking-specific shoes we have ever reviewed. They are virtually unnoticeable on foot, which was a blessing as we embarked on a 19-mile hike to test these shoes. Surprisingly nimble, the featherweight shoes also give decent support and traction, not to mention being exceptionally waterproof and breathable. Our feet hardly sweat even after hiking in dry and dusty conditions.

The Aerios are ridiculously light, but they lose some long-term durability to achieve this weight. We put them to the test and hiked about 300 miles in them before they became too soft to be useful for trail hiking anymore. The outer of the shoe still looked surprisingly good, but the structure of the midsole and the heel cup had broken down enough that they were not as supportive as they once were. This still seems like a reasonable lifespan for such a niche hiking shoe, and we look forward to buying our next pair to test.

Read review: Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX

hiking shoes - best for lightweight hiking
Incredibly waterproof, we let our feet cool off for a bit without them getting wet at all.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

An Excellent Runner-Up


La Sportiva Spire GTX


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Support 7.0
  • Traction 7.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Durability 6.0
Weight: 2.06 lbs (size 11 US) | Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex Surround
REASONS TO BUY
All-around performance
Superior waterproofness
Modest weight
REASONS TO AVOID
Average durability
Expensive

The La Sportiva Spire GTX has been another favorite of our reviewers. This capable hiking shoe performs admirably on all types of trails, from on-trail walks to long-distance thru-hikes over rough cross-country routes. Supportive and comfortable, we are also impressed with their weight. While there are certainly lighter models out there, at 2.06 pounds per pair, the Spire gives us a lot of hiking performance and has great scores in waterproofness.

The Spire GTX is a shoe we would recommend to people who want a great waterproof hiker, who have narrower feet, and who prefer a traditional lacing system over speed laces. This is an expensive shoe, so it does not earn our highest award, though it is still a fantastic option. It hangs right with the performance of the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend either pair to our hiking friends.

Read review: La Sportiva Spire GTX

hiking shoes - the angulated rock of mcgee creek canyon is notoriously painful...
The angulated rock of McGee Creek Canyon is notoriously painful under lightweight shoes, though we ran over these rocky trails with ease wearing the Spire GTX.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
80
$150
Editors' Choice Award
This is the definition of a solid hiking shoe, and is a perfect choice for those not wanting to compromise on off-trail performance
75
$130
Top Pick Award
These shoes are comfortable and provide good stability but run small and feel very narrow
74
$130
Top Pick Award
A versatile shoe with superior support and a stylish casual aesthetic
74
$190
This hiking shoe combines comfort with incredible on-trail performance better than any other
71
$160
Top Pick Award
This is a supportive hiking shoe that is perfect for scrambling and peak bagging
71
$170
Top Pick Award
Superlight hiking shoes that offer excellent waterproofness and comfort
69
$165
This hiking shoe provides good performance for those looking to go out and hit their local trails
68
$130
A superlightweight hiking shoe with decent versatility, traction, and durability
68
$220
This hiking shoe combines good walking comfort with the ability to scramble on rugged off-trail terrain
67
$210
This casual hiking shoe is a good choice for shorter day hikes and is soft and comfortable
65
$150
A beefy shoe, this is a good pick for cross-country terrain thanks to its rugged sole
64
$120
Best Buy Award
A great shoe for day hiking and scrambling in fair weather at a fair price
60
$135
A popular model that provides solid performance on easy to moderate trails, as well as in chilly weather
57
$170
This approach shoe/hiker crossover offers remarkable climbing ability and is best suited to dry, rocky terrain
56
$140
This shoe provides good comfort and durability, making it a good option for light hiking use
55
$110
Built for light to moderate day hikes in cool to warm, dry environments

on the trail in the keen targhee iii.
On the trail in the Keen Targhee III.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Why You Should Trust Us


This review was tag-teamed by Ross Robinson, Ryan Huetter, and Ben Applebaum-Bauch. As a seasoned world traveler and backpacker, Ross often gets around on foot. It's a big part of his lifestyle, whether in the granite peaks of his home in California's Sierra Nevada or during his many forays abroad. He has lived and worked in places like Thailand, Peru, and Germany and has made tracks for at least 500 miles each. Ross is joined by Ryan, a full-time mountain guide who spends more than 200 days a year hiking, climbing, and recreating on and off-trail. As an IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association, Ryan is an outdoor professional, and hiking on a trail is his daily commute. Ben started his outdoor career as a guide on multi-week backpacking and cycling trips. He is an avid distance hiker, completing thru-hikes of iconic American trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast, Pinhoti, and Superior Hiking Trail, among others.

We tested these shoes in all types of conditions, from wet trails to...
We tested these shoes in all types of conditions, from wet trails to dusty playas.
Nimble and fresh-feeling in the Aerios FL GTX.
Nimble and fresh-feeling in the Aerios FL GTX.
Capable and comfortable, the Toa Gore-Tex takes rough conditions in...
Capable and comfortable, the Toa Gore-Tex takes rough conditions in stride.

Since the category of hiking shoes (or shoes that could easily be hiked in) is broad, our review staff and editors spend a great deal of time sifting through the countless models before settling on the top shoes for testing. This starts with a lot of research, ultimately selecting models that seem interesting, exciting, or are highly regarded. We then buy each pair and ship them out to our expert review staff, who spend untold hours hiking around. We hike for our living, so it is an enjoyable task, though we use our predetermined metrics to judge each pair and see how they perform against each other. Once we have walked many miles in each of these hiking shoes, we tally up our results and write the thoughtful, in-depth reviews that you, as a GearLab reader, have come to know and expect.

Men's hiking shoes were tested across 7 performance metrics:
  • Comfort tests (25% of total weighted score)
  • Weight tests (25% of score)
  • Support tests (15% of score)
  • Traction tests (15% of score)
  • Versatility tests (10% of score)
  • Water Resistance tests (5% of score)
  • Durability tests (5% of score)

We performed more than 10 individual assessments on each hiker. The two most critical metrics were the comfort and weight tests which corresponded to 25% of the overall weighted score. Testers wore each pair of shoes in the real world for a minimum of 20 miles per pair to determine long-term wear and changes in performance over time as the shoes "break-in" and potentially wear out. Each shoe was scored on a scale of 1 through 10 on each metric, resulting in an overall score. While it is useful to look at this score to see which models were the best across all metrics, you should also pay attention to how each shoe performs in specific applications.

just a few of the shoes we send through our testing gauntlet...
Just a few of the shoes we send through our testing gauntlet year-round.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Analysis and Test Results


We tested these models of hiking shoes thoroughly, taking meticulous notes along the way so that we could score them all using a set of pre-defined testing metrics to help you find the right hikers for you. Don't forget that hiking boots might be more appropriate depending on your needs.

Value


Many purchase decisions require us to prioritize one consideration over another. For example, with hiking shoes, you might prefer something lightweight, but chances are it won't be as supportive as a result. If you're wondering about the trade-off between the price and our estimate of the product's value, this review can help.


One of our favorite value options, the Vasque Juxt, gives the best performance for the lowest dollar amount, yet it lacks a waterproof lining. Throughout years of testing, we acknowledge that high-quality models start at around a hundred bucks, but you don't have to spend much more than that to get a quality pair.

hiking shoes - high and dry. the juxt is a great hiking shoe at an affordable price.
High and dry. The Juxt is a great hiking shoe at an affordable price.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Comfort


Comfort is king when it comes to all hiking footwear. There is simply no reason to choose a shoe that does not feel great right out of the box. Everyone's foot is different, and we tend to recommend ordering a few different shoes and keeping the ones that fit the best. Luckily, we are past the days of excruciating break-in periods; these shoes are lighter and use less rigid materials, which allows them to be ready to hit the trail from the moment you lace them up.


We take extensive notes on how each shoe feels when we test for comfort. We start scrutinizing material stiffness, ease of entry and removal, lacing systems, and roominess right out of the box. A shoe should not need to be broken in if made from synthetic fabrics such as mesh and PU coated nylon, which is now quite common. The material should wrap around the foot without feeling bulky or clunky, and it should not have any stiffness leading to discomfort while walking, such as a tongue that cuts into your ankle. Comfort also relates to fit, and we attempt to relate the fit to individual foot volume so that you can get an idea of how loose or snug a pair of shoes might be. We consider the entire shoe and cover everything, including the way the cuff feels around the ankle, the width of the shoe, the insole quality, and arch support, the size of the toe box, as well as any improvements to comfort and protection such as a molded toe cap or bumper.

hiking shoes - useful features like molded toe bumpers protect the foot and make...
Useful features like molded toe bumpers protect the foot and make the shoe more comfortable.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

The way shoelaces are secured can affect your comfort too, so we considered the ease or difficulty of fine-tuning the fit. We enjoyed the ease and high functionality of speed lacing systems that require no knot-tying, as found on the Salomon and Adidas models. Most hikers we review do not have the lacing hooks that hiking boots normally do. To test shock absorption in each model, we jumped down off a boulder onto a flat rock and noted how much impact was felt on our feet and knees.

hiking shoes - we want our shoes to protect us from the jarring impacts that hiking...
We want our shoes to protect us from the jarring impacts that hiking trails have.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Finally, we looked at how well each model breathes. Dry feet are comfortable feet, and a good design keeps feet dry when splashing through puddles and breathes well on warmer days. We took each model to the local gym to walk on a treadmill at the same speed (3 mph), same incline (moderate), and for the same distance (1 mile) in the same socks (no fear, we cleaned them between trials). Afterward, we noted how hot our feet were, then removed the shoes to check for sock dampness and sweat accumulation on our feet. The products without a waterproof membrane, the Vasque Juxt, Salewa Wildfire Edge, and Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator, turned out to breathe the best, as expected. Of the shoes with waterproof membranes, the La Sportiva Spire GTX breathes the most, likely thanks to the added air ventilation below the insole. Some users will need to choose a shoe with a waterproof lining based on where they go hiking (wet environments), but if you live in an arid climate, then consider one of these shoes without a liner so that your feet will breathe better and not get as sweaty and damp.

hiking shoes - we hiked over sharp, uneven rocks to test the support given by the...
We hiked over sharp, uneven rocks to test the support given by the midsoles.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

Without a doubt, the La Sportiva Spire GTX is the most comfortable in our review, as it provides luxurious comfort with a cushioned midsole that helps shield your feet from the jarring impacts of firm surfaces like rocks and packed down trails. Our testers didn't need to break them in; they were comfy from day one.

hiking shoes - plenty of shock absorption and cushion make a very comfortable...
Plenty of shock absorption and cushion make a very comfortable hiking shoe.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Weight


Light is right for footwear. One of the benefits of a hiking shoe over a full boot is the significant weight shed from every step while still providing a bit more stability and durability over a trail runner or tennis shoe. To compare the different models accurately, we weigh each one ourselves on a digital scale straight out of the box.


The different pairs ranged between 1.56 to 2.46 pounds. That pound difference might not seem like much on paper, but we noticed it underfoot. The Merrell Moab Speed Low is the lightest pair that we tested, and the Salomon OUTline Low GTX is very close behind. Both of these models manage solid comfort and support, despite the light weight. The Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX is also a very light pair, though it's worth noting that it isn't as comfortable nor as supportive in the midsole as the others. Furthermore, after moderate use over a year of use by our lead tester, it lost much of this support as the midsole material broke down. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex only weighs a touch more at 1.76 lbs and offers more longevity and stiffer support. We think this balance of low weight and support is unmatched in all models we have tested and a big reason the X Ultra wins favor among our testers. On the opposite end, the Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry is the heaviest pair we tested. It's incredibly stable and clearly built with longevity in mind.

hiking shoes - at just over 1.5 pounds, the merrell moab speed low is the lightest...
At just over 1.5 pounds, the Merrell Moab Speed Low is the lightest pair in the category.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

While weight is an important trait, you do not always have to choose between weight and performance. The La Sportiva Spire GTX weighs a hair over 2 pounds but is among the more comfortable, stable, and supportive options, too. The Vasque Juxt weighs just over 2 pounds and is equally nice underfoot. Most of our favorite shoes hover right around two pounds. More than two pounds, and the shoe will likely boast better durability thanks to heavier, natural materials, as well as improved support thanks to a more burly midsole construction.

hiking shoes - on massive day hikes, weight savings equal efficiency.
On massive day hikes, weight savings equal efficiency.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

Traction


Traction is a fundamental trait to consider in a hiking shoe. The amount of grip that the shoe's outsole provides directly relates to how secure we will feel on our footing, no matter if we are walking the dog on a local trail or if we are out scrambling up peaks deep in the backcountry. The basis for a shoe's traction is the outsole. Made from rubber compounds and molded into different shapes called lugs, the shoe's sole is what allows our feet to stick.

Depending on your application, you may want a shoe with softer or harder rubber. Soft rubber will conform better to smooth surfaces such as rock slabs, while harder rubber will resist deformation and bite into loose terrain better while also lasting longer. Some companies outsource their rubber selection to well-known companies like Vibram, while others choose to go with an in-house or proprietary rubber blend.


Lug pattern and shape will also impact your shoe's ability to hold on to the terrain you are on. Wide and shallow lugs give more surface area contact, making them more appropriate for packed trails and firm surfaces, while deeper and sharper cut lugs will provide a better grip on loose trails, mud, and snow. We felt that shoes such as the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex and the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex gave great traction in a range of surface conditions.

hiking shoes - the x ultra 4 gore-tex has impressive lugs that grip into many...
The X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex has impressive lugs that grip into many surface types with ease.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Midsole inserts made of molded plastic also contribute to a shoe's traction by giving the user a more stable and secure platform to edge upon, making a dime edge seem like a much broader ledge to use as a foothold. The Salewa Wildfire Edge has an edging plate that makes it a very effective climber. Other models, such as the Oboz Firebrand II Bdry, utilize a nylon shank that produces similar stability underfoot that is more generally useful without being so specialized as to be as good at climbing as a more niche model.

hiking shoes - the merrell moab speed low has a unique tiered tread construction...
The Merrell Moab Speed Low has a unique tiered tread construction that increases surface area contact with the ground.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Each model was tested side-by-side on five separate surface types to come up with the shoes' overall traction score. We even wore different shoes on each foot when trekking through the test areas to directly compare their purchase ability. First, we walked up and down dry granite slabs. Most models performed well in these scenarios, while the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX and Spire GTX stuck best to the steepest slopes. Both pairs have lugs that allow for lots of surface area contact. The Salewa Wildfire Edge has the best ability to edge and smear, thanks to its lower profile and even smooth sole, making it the best for technical rock climbing. We walked back and forth across the same wet rocks in mountain brooks and streams in our wet rock test. The Salewa models impressed us on both wet and dry rock.

hiking shoes - smearing up smooth rock on an off-trail section of mt. whitney...
Smearing up smooth rock on an off-trail section of Mt. Whitney requires precise traction control. The Sportiva Spire performed very well.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

We also hustled up slopes of loose sediment in our traction tests, in which the more aggressive tread of the Salomon X Ultra 4 dug in better than the rest. On the eastern side of the Sierra in Spring, we found a trail covered in mud from the thawing snow. Again, the X Ultra's deep and multi-directional lugs cut through the mud most efficiently, finding hidden rocks or more stable soil to gain purchase. We also preferred the shoes with heel brakes when descending loose and sloppy terrain, keeping us from sliding out much better than the outsoles without it.

Matching shoes to your most common trail conditions helps you achieve the most out of your outsoles. Consider the ground you hike most often.

hiking shoes - trailside boulders are just too tempting to resist. if this speaks...
Trailside boulders are just too tempting to resist. If this speaks to you, aim for a shoe with good traction on dry rock like this Vasque model.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Finally, we walked up and down some gentle snow-covered slopes warmed into a slushy state by the midday sun. The Salomon X Ultra 4 model kicked in steps in the snow, the best going up. Coming down, we again fell for outsoles with heel brakes, which tended to catch a sliding foot. The La Sportiva Spire GTX also did well in the snow. Overall, the Salomon X Ultra showcases the best all-around traction, while the Salewa Mountain Trainer and Wildfire Edge prove to have the most purchase on rock, a boon for rugged alpine travel.

hiking shoes - kicking steps up loose scree tested each shoe on stability and grip.
Kicking steps up loose scree tested each shoe on stability and grip.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Support


How much support a shoe provides is based on several factors, including the thickness and materials of the midsole, thickness of the outsole, the shape of the last, and, to a lesser extent, the insole. An ideal hiking shoe is stiff from heel to midfoot but flexible upfront. Most models we reviewed include a shank between the midsole and outsole, increasing stiffness and protecting you over rough terrain. Stability is also affected by the forefoot width and the height of the ankle collar.


If ankle protection and support is a key concern for you, consider a pair of hiking boots. While not always the most comfortable option for day hikes, the extra weight and warmth might be worth it if it stops you from rolling your ankle.

To investigate stiffness underfoot, we tested the lateral torsion of each model. Reliable torsional support reduces the risk of injury in uneven terrain and when carrying a load. Holding the front of the shoe in one hand and the heel in the other, we twisted the shoe, similar to wringing out a towel. The more twist resistance indicated greater rigidity in the sole. This rigidity improves a shoe's support when moving through talus and rough terrain or scrambling and hopping boulders. The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is one of the stiffest in a group of contenders that varies widely in this aspect. Those who desire hefty underfoot structure may also find the Columbia Facet 60 Outdry and the Oboz Firebrand II to be solid options. The Facet 60 has an especially wide base that our testers found to reduce the likelihood of ankle rolls. It also comes with a robust heel guard, which secures the back of the foot. We were pleased that all products reviewed flexed sufficiently in the forefoot.

hiking off-trail requires a lot of support, even if not carrying a...
Hiking off-trail requires a lot of support, even if not carrying a heavy load. Running shoes can't compete with hiking shoes in this regard.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Additionally, we measured the forefoot at its widest point on each product. Wide bases provide a stable foundation for powering through each step. The Merrell models tied for the broadest forefoot at 4.75 inches. We also measured the height of the ankle collar (from the footbed to the highest ankle point) to check ankle stability. While ankle protection is more of a thing with hiking boots, we still appreciate a pair of hiking shoes that offers more stability than a typical trail runner.

with a tall ankle and supportive chassis, the toa let&#039;s us cruise...
With a tall ankle and supportive chassis, the Toa let's us cruise over difficult terrain with ease.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Lastly, we also considered the quality of the insole. It appears that some manufacturers view the insole as just an opportunity to add cushioning and improve the fit of the footbed. We appreciated manufacturers that took the insole as an opportunity to add support to the heel and arch. The stiffest insole award goes to the Keen models, while the Salomon, Vasque, and Merrell*products also beefed up their insoles by adding a second, more dense layer of foam to the back half of the foot. This extra support does not take away from comfort in the footbed in any case. While many hikers see buying third-party insoles as automatic, hiking shoes are not cheap, and we like insoles that aren't, too.

an array of insoles from pairs we tested.
An array of insoles from pairs we tested.
Credit: Ross Robinson

The Mountain Trainer Lite excelled in this metric, topping the charts as the most stable under any conditions imaginable. It's a great hiking shoe for those who might feel the need to carry heavier packs or who require more ankle support. Low-cut shoes that wrap around the bottom of the ankle can provide that much more stability, and we tend to favor them when hiking on rough and uneven terrain where the risks of twisting an ankle are higher.

awkward and uneven terrain necessitates excellent support, and in...
Awkward and uneven terrain necessitates excellent support, and in this slot canyon the X Ultra 4 didn't let us down.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Versatility


Shoes are shoes, and you could feasibly get by using one pair to do everything from going to work, walking the dog, hiking the Colorado Divide Trail, and even running a marathon. The question is how well they will do in these varied applications. A good hiking shoe, in our minds, will be able to handle all moderately difficult hiking trails with ease, with and without a backpack, and some off-trail travel in more demanding terrain. A few of these models could moonlight as a casual shoe around town or as a trail-running shoe for wet and sloppy conditions.


Do you want one do-it-all shoe or several options for different adventures? If you are new to hiking, a versatile, do-everything shoe likely fits your needs. But, if you have specific priorities and a bigger budget, two or more pairs of specialized shoes could give you focused performance. Keep in mind that a shoe designed for hiking is only part of your adventure footwear, which might already include boots, trail running shoes, approach shoes, etc.

sometimes you just want a good-looking shoe to wear around town that...
Sometimes you just want a good-looking shoe to wear around town that can also handle the casual day hike. The Danner Trail 2650 GTX fits that bill well.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

At a bare minimum, a product in this category must handle several miles with a light daypack stuffed with a water bottles water bottle, snacks, an extra layer, and a camera. All models we reviewed pass this low standard. During testing, we also packed a midsize pack (30-40 liter volume) with 15-20 pounds and hit the trails. After a few miles, the added weight of a pack separated the rest of the "pack." Our favorites for moderate backpacking trips are the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX and Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX models, which have great ankle and foot support.

walking off the exposed slabs atop lovers leap after climbing a...
Walking off the exposed slabs atop Lovers Leap after climbing a technical route to the top, it is good to have a versatile shoe that can handle these conditions.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

Many models also bear a strong resemblance to trail running shoes. Some of the shoes we tested, such as the Columbia 60 Facet Outdry, Salomon OUTline Low GTX, and La Sportiva Spire GTX, could easily be taken out on your favorite trail run, making them highly versatile. The Facet 60 Outdry also has an especially in-town vibe that makes them great for wearing on a casual afternoon with a pair of joggers. The thing that sets them apart from your average trail runner is the added support and traction, especially the waterproof liner, a less common attribute in trail shoes. These models tend to be our favorite choices for trips that will involve a lot of miles, such as a fast-packing adventure on such iconic summertime trails as the Wonderland, the JMT, and the Long Trail.

nimble enough to trail run or fastpack with, but sturdy enough to...
Nimble enough to trail run or fastpack with, but sturdy enough to carry a backpack, we want our hiking shoes to do more than just one thing well.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


It's no secret dry feet provide more comfort and warmth than wet ones. Moisture and water in the footbed also increase the likelihood of blisters. The trade-off for solid waterproofing is lower breathability, warmer feet, and a higher price tag. Most of the shoes we reviewed had a waterproof liner, except for the Salewa Wildfire Edge, Vasque Juxt, and Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator. Many of the models that we tested come in both standard and "waterproof" options (a designation in the name like "GTX" for Gore-Tex or "Dry" usually gives it away). Popular liners include options from Gore-Tex or eVent, while some manufacturers, like Keen, use a proprietary membrane. We chose to test the waterproof versions as much as possible because the average hiker often encounters wet conditions, from water crossings to muck and slush to precipitation. Unless you're only hiking in Death Valley — and hey, even they get rain sometimes — it usually makes sense to have a pair with a waterproof liner.


To score the contenders in this metric, we considered their flood heights, how readily the upper absorbs water, and performance in our waterproof challenge. After a couple of months of hiking, we headed to a small mountain stream in the Eastern Sierra. We checked for leaks and splashed around in water deep enough to cover the forefoot. We walked around and flexed the forefoot to see if the added stress caused any leakage. After five minutes, we removed the shoes to see if any water made it inside.

Most manufacturers produce waterproof and non-waterproof versions of their hiking shoes. If you don't need the protection, the non-waterproof versions are almost always cooler, more breathable, and cost less.

A handful of models emerged from the water on top, including the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX, La Sportiva Spire GTX, Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX, and Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX. It's worth noting that the Spire GTX has a relatively tall flood height (4.75 inches) which kept our feet dry through the waterproof test and resisted absorbing water into its synthetic upper.

waterproof hiking shoes keep our feet dry in wet and mucky conditions.
Waterproof hiking shoes keep our feet dry in wet and mucky conditions.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Similar water resistance effectiveness came from the La Sportiva Spire GTX and Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex. Any water these models did soak up dried quickly.

lower flood heights mean you&#039;ll have to be careful crossing deeper...
Lower flood heights mean you'll have to be careful crossing deeper streams
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Our feet were soaked a few seconds after stepping into the water in the Juxt. The same went for the Moab 2 Ventilator. Not having a waterproof membrane this was expected. However, one pair with a waterproof membrane did leak — the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof. Our feet remained dry for a few minutes, but they couldn't survive the full five minutes underwater. Water resistance declines with use and time, but we expected more after only 15-20 miles in this shoe.

post waterproof test results: the moab 2 leaked.
Post waterproof test results: The Moab 2 leaked.
Credit: Ross Robinson

These shoes benefit from a leather or fabric conditioner applied to the upper. Nikwax has a range of products that are great for treating the mixed material uppers of these shoes. A leather or fabric treatment keeps water from soaking the shoe's upper materials. Even when the waterproof liner stops water, it makes your shoe heavy and hinders breathability. The La Sportiva and Salomon*products soaked up the least water and dried faster than the others.

If heavy dew and water crossings are common where you hike, consider choosing a dark color option for your shoes. This allows them to dry quickly under the sun.

Durability


The are many trade-offs when designing hiking footwear, and the cost for a more durable shoe is commonly more weight. When a manufacturer focuses on making lightweight shoes, durability is less of a focus. Full leather uppers tend to be more durable than synthetics but also weigh more. Rubber-covered toe boxes also increase durability in that high-wear area, yet again adding to the shoe's weight. Durable, dense rubber soles are also heavier than softer rubber. Your footwear takes more punishment than any other kind of hiking gear you wear, making craft, materials, and design an important part of choosing a pair that ages well.


While we didn't test each product's entire lifespan, we put a minimum of 20 miles on each shoe and checked them at the end of the testing period for any signs of weakness or wear. We looked at protection in high wear areas, rubber density of the sole, materials and construction of the upper, quality of stitching, and other unique characteristics of each shoe. We also talked to fellow hikers on the trails about their shoe experiences.

the exposed stitching on the heel of the juxt is vulnerable to...
The exposed stitching on the heel of the Juxt is vulnerable to damage when scraping against rocks.
Credit: Ross Robinson

The Oboz Firebrand II Bdry appears to be the most durable pair of shoes we tested. It has a burly outsole, uses much more robust materials for the upper, and stacks a lot of material into the shank to create the support and stability it imparts to the wearer. It will last you a long time, but the added weight penalty might not be worth it for everyone. We found the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX blends durability and weight for more approachable longevity.

washing off the moab 2s after a particularly muddy trail (before we...
Washing off the Moab 2s after a particularly muddy trail (before we knew they were leaky).
Credit: Ross Robinson

Cleaning and treating your footwear increases its life expectancy. Mud and sand left on the upper create premature wear. Warm water and a soft brush is your best tactic for cleaning. Nikwax offers a line of leather and fabric conditioners, including products for suede leather and synthetic fabrics. Common wear areas, like the flex points on the forefoot and seams that are prone to scuffing, can be reinforced. Applying Gear Aid Seam Grip or a similar sealer keeps out dirt and sand, prolonged use, and has the added benefit of keeping water out.

we hope this review helps you find the right shoes so you can tackle...
We hope this review helps you find the right shoes so you can tackle any terrain or objective you dream up.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Conclusion


Few things make us happier than a good pair of hiking shoes. These capable low-cut models provide all the traction, comfort, and versatility that a pair of boots might, but at a much-reduced weight. For most of us who don't tend to carry big, heavy packs out onto the trails, these are the perfect tickets to an enjoyable hiking experience. They are more comfortable; they breathe better while still providing waterproofing, and they take virtually no time to break in and get used to. Do yourself a favor and slip into a nice new pair of hiking shoes; your feet will thank you.

Ryan Huetter, Ross Robinson, and Ben Applebaum-Bauch


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