Walk it Out with the Best Hiking Boots of 2022


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Not all hiking boots are created equal. Some brands might have better protection against wet weather while falling short on ankle support. Others might offer the ankle support you need, but the soles are weak. So, how do you decide which hiking boot is best for you? We’ve put together a list of this year’s best hiking boots, in which we consider quality, materials, purpose, construction, waterproofing, traction, reviews, and other features.

The best hiking boots for men

Best approach shoe for technical terrain: Garmont Vetta Tech GTX

garmont vetta tech gtx

  • Efoam inserts at heel and toe for added protection and comfort
  • Ultralite footbed
  • Michelin Off-Road double compound outsole
  • Suede leather upper
  • Lacing system up the boot for a precision fit
  • Ankle support and precise fit make these great for backpacking trips

The Garmont Vetta Tech GTX ended up in the top spot because of its quick break-in period and excellent performance on a variety of terrain. This boot is usually chosen as an approach shoe for alpine terrain and mountaineering thanks to its precision toe box and supportive ankle cuff. However, I also found that the boot performed well outside of alpine terrain.

These boots have one of the most secure fits on the market, starting with a heel lock. There’s also a GORE-TEX layer and efoam inserts in the heel and toe box for added protection. An Ultralite footbed lines the sole and a Michelin (like the tire) Off-Road double compound sole provides exceptional traction with deep lugs. For their size, these are lightweight boots loaded with features and support.

See Garmont Vetta Tech GTX on Аmazon

See Garmont Vetta Tech GTX on Moosejaw

See Garmont Vetta Tech GTX on Walmart

Best desert hiking boots: Erem Xerocole

erem xerocole 2

  • Recycled rubber outsole
  • Breathable full-grain leather upper
  • Cork insole for shock absorption
  • Men’s and women’s versions available

If you spend the bulk of your hiking time in the desert, the Erem Xerocole is for you. While the women’s version is linked here a men’s version is also available. We tested this boot in the high desert of Bend, Oregon, and we love the full-grain leather upper and the way it ages with time and wear. The leather upper also protects against scratches and stings.

The outsole is recycled rubber and features deep lugs for durability and traction. The cork insole works as a reliable shock absorber.

See Erem Xerocole on Eremlife

Maximum support: 5.11 A/T Mid Boot

5.11 a t mid boot

  • 5.11 A.T.L.A.S. Load bearing system
  • Ortholite footbed
  • 3D molded heel and toe protection
  • High traction outsole that is slip and oil resistant
  • Welded mesh upper

This boot felt closer to a trail running shoe in size but offered similar weight distribution and support to many hiking boots. The 5.11’s load-bearing assistance system helped me feel well-supported, despite the boots’ small size.

Other key features include the Ortholite footbed for added comfort, 3D molded TPR heel and toe protection, the high traction outsole, and the foam cushioning throughout the boot. Something to keep in mind is the welded mesh upper doesn’t have the best waterproofing, but these are great for dry hikes and everyday wear.

See 5.11 A/T Mid Boot on Amazon

See 5.11 A/T Mid Boot on 511

Great all-arounder: Nortiv8 Polar Bear Series Hiking Boots

nortiv8 polar bear series hiking boots

  • Rubber outsole with tread design for traction on uneven, slippery surfaces
  • Exceptional performance for a budget-friendly boot
  • TPU midsole and MD Midsole for shock absorption
  • Mesh liners for sweat-wicking and breathability
  • Water-resistant fabric upper

During testing, I found these to be very comfortable, thanks to the quick break-in period and support throughout the shoe. I tested these on hikes all over Washington and Oregon. They dried quickly when I needed to slog through puddles.

On the bottom of these boots is a rubber outsole with deep lugs for traction in wet or slippery terrain. Next, a TPU midsole for additional support, a cushioned insole, and mesh liners for breathability. Toward the top, we have a padded collar for ankle support and lace-up closure with metal hooks. While these boots don’t feature fancy names like Vibram or Gore-Tex, I found they still performed quite well for budget-friendly boots. I would have liked for them to be a bit warmer but overall I was happy with the performance for the cost.

See Nortiv8 Polar Bear Series Hiking Boots on Amazon

Great for hiking and scrambling: Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

merrell men's moab 2 mid waterproof hiking boo

  • Made from leather with a synthetic sole
  • Kinetic Fit contoured insole
  • Waterproof membrane
  • Breathable mesh lining

Merrell has developed a waterproof boot with a sturdy rubber sole, making it ideal for hiking during wet weather. It’s also reinforced by the M Select Dry Barrier, which is a waterproof-breathable membrane.

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots are very comfortable and the membrane keeps out water while also allowing internal moisture to evaporate. An advanced Kinetic Fit removable contoured insole supports the heel and arch structure, absorbing shock. Although we do not advise jumping from heights and landing, the soles do stand up to a fair bit of stress. This is an excellent budget hiking boot that will last you for quite a while.

See Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Amazon

See Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on REI

See Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Walmart

Excellent all-leather boot: KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

keen men's targhee ii mid waterproof hiking boot

  • Waterproof leather construction
  • Good ankle support
  • Enhances balance on uneven surfaces
  • Contoured heel supports stability
  • Good traction on the rubber sole

These comfortable, rubber-soled boots are made from 100% waterproof Nubuck leather and the heels measure approximately 1.5 inches. They have a breathable membrane that seals out water while allowing internal moisture to evaporate. The leather treatment is a PFC-free water repellent with no harmful chemicals. They have a high-traction grip for all environments. The rubber outsoles are non-marking and they come with an external support shank, which adds support to the ankles and helps you maintain balance.

We love the rubber toe cap for extra toe protection, but this does mean more time to break in the toe box. So if you need a wide toe box, consider this extra time when you’re getting ready to break these in!

For more quality footwear for outdoor adventures, check out our guide to the best mountaineering boots.

See KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Amazon

See KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on REI

See KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Walmart

Budget buy: NORTIV 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boot

nortiv 8 men's ankle high waterproof hiking boot

  • Multi-directional lugs to support traction
  • Shock-absorption midsole
  • Slip-resistant
  • Waterproof lining
  • EVA footbed insole

As one of the most durable yet affordable boots on our list, the NORTIV 8 is a fantastic trail shoe. The rubber outsole has multi-directional lugs to support traction for a wide variety of terrain. The shaft measures approximately five inches from the arch, with a 1.5-inch heel so you can experience a bit of lift.

These also have a slip-resistant lining. While not recommended for sustained wet conditions, should you find yourself walking through a small stretch of water, or out in the rain, your feet will be kept nice and dry. They also feature a cushioned EVA footbed to support the foot’s arch and provide comfort.

See NORTIV 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boot on Amazon

See NORTIV 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boot on Walmart

Style and performance: Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

timberland men's white ledge mid waterproof hiking boot

  • Made from leather, with rubber sole
  • Waterproof lining
  • Rust-proof fast-lacing
  • Sturdy and fashionable

The shaft measures approximately five inches from the arch, and the platform comes in at about half an inch. The White Ledge Hiking Boot has a premium, full-grain waterproof upper, the seams are sealed with waterproof construction, and the lace hooks are rustproof. The closure design lets you lace up the boots quickly and securely.

Not only are these Timberland shoes sturdy and suitable for trail walking, but they won’t look out of place for casual wear. From a leisurely hike to the bar, these men’s hiking boots can go anywhere.

See Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Amazon

See Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on Walmart

Great balance: Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II

columbia men's newton ridge plus ii

  • Waterproof suede/mesh/faux leather combination
  • Lightweight midsole for impact-absorption
  • Metal hardware, seam-seal construction
  • Lace-up closure
  • Multi-terrain traction

Next up is the Columbia’s Newton Ridge Plus II, which features a synthetic sole and a shaft that measures ankle-high from the foot’s arch. The platform is approximately one inch high. The lace-up closure provides a comfortable and secure fit. This boot, a mix of faux leather, breathable mesh, and waterproof suede, keeps your foot dry and comfortable for the duration of your hike.

The Newton Ridge Plus II has a unique lightweight midsole to add comfort, offering superior cushioning compared with other boots on the market. Additionally, the synthetic sole has a multidirectional grip to aid balance.

The sole has a specially-crafted dual track, which makes them ideal during winter and reduces the risk of slipping. Additionally, the seam-sealed construction is built for durability, and withstanding rain and muck.

See Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II on Amazon

See Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II on Walmart

Great for short hikes: RAX Men’s Wild Wolf Mid Venture Waterproof Lightweight Hiking Boot

rax men's wild wolf mid venture waterproof lightweight hiking boot

  • Waterproof with suede leather upper
  • Adjustable lace-up vamp
  • Lightweight with EVA cushioning
  • Antiskid multi-directional outsole
  • Padded tongue and collar to keep out debris

This stylish hiking boot comes from a lesser-known brand, RAX. The Wild Wolf Mid Venture Hiking Boot boasts a sturdy rubber sole, suede leather upper, breathable Lycra, and an adjustable lace-up vamp for comfort. They are waterproof and have a padded tongue that keeps out debris and water.

The midsole is made of EVA cushioning, so it molds to the shape of your foot. The multi-directional traction rubber outsole helps you stay steady and the toe has a protective rubber wrap to shield your toes.

You may also like some of these durable combat boots from our list.

See RAX Men’s Wild Wolf Mid Venture Waterproof Lightweight Hiking Boot on Amazon

Mountain performance: Scarpa Men’s Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking Boot

scarpa men's zodiac plus gtx hiking boot

  • 100% suede construction
  • Gore-Tex performance comfort
  • Three densities of EVA midsole to optimize performance
  • Asymmetric lace for a precise fit
  • Water-resistant yet breathable
  • Keeps feet dry

One of our premium choices is the Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX. Made with Gore-Tex Performance Comfort, these boots keep your feet bone-dry while out on the trail. They have a strong rubber sole, perhaps not the sturdiest we’ve encountered, but it does stand up to a lot of wear. The shaft measures about six inches from the arch of the foot, giving excellent coverage. It laces up with an asymmetric lace system and has a Sock-Fit DV construction for a snug fit. These reduce that bulky feeling when wearing hiking socks with boots.

The suede upper is extremely abrasion resistant, making this hiking boot great for scrambling and rocky terrain. Scarpa also tends to feature a wide toe box. The Vibram outsole provides exceptional grip on all sorts of terrain.

See Scarpa Men’s Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking Boot on Amazon

See Scarpa Men’s Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking Boot on Backcountry

See Scarpa Men’s Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking Boot on REI

Expedition ready: Salomon Quest 4 GTX

salomon quest 4 gtx

  • Gore-Tex waterproof yet breathable membranes
  • Contragrip rubber outsoles
  • Deep lugs for grip and durability
  • ADV-C 4D Chassis for ankle support
  • Inspired by trail running shoes

While the Salomon Quest 4 GTX falls solidly in the hiking boot category, its design features inspiration from trail running shoes, meaning flexibility is a key element. Weighing in at just under three pounds they are lightweight with a focus on breathability.

The Contragrip rubber outsoles and deep lugs provide extra traction. The ADV-C 4D chassis also protects your ankles and offers extra support for your heels to help reduce fatigue.

See Salomon Quest 4 GTX on REI

Great for backpacking tips: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid-Hiking Boots

lowa renegade gtx mid hiking boots

  • Nubuck leather upper
  • Gore-Tex and polyester liners
  • Vibram soles
  • Cordura Ankle bands
  • Nylon shanks
  • Gusseted tongues

To round out our list, we have one of the biggest names in boots, Lowa with the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Height Hiking Boots. These feature a waterproof Gore-TexX liner for dry feet in wet or snowy weather. The Gore-Tex is accompanied by polyester for additional moisture wicking. The liners are complimented with nubuck leather uppers and Cordura ankle support.

On the exterior, you’ll find Vibram soles and deep lugs for exceptional grip and lace-up closure.

See Lowa Renegade GTX Mid-Hiking Boots on REI

Why trust us

Our team has decades of experience in the mountains and the outdoors. In addition to my years spent testing and reviewing gear, I’ve also spent five years as a tech rep for several footwear companies that make technical footwear, including hiking boots.

Who this is for

This guide is for anyone looking for a solid pair of hiking boots. Whether you need ankle support for day-to-day walking or a sturdy boot for backpacking trips, we have a great variety of hiking footwear to choose from.

How we picked

Our collection of the best hiking boots is made up of our favorites, a mix of top-of-the-line boots, budget-friendly models, mid-height, and full-size boots. I looked for a variety of applications, lug patterns, support, and materials so that we had enough variety for a wide user base.

How we tested

We tested boots all over Oregon and Washington. From the high desert of Bend to the beautiful Enchantments outside of Leavenworth, Washington. I hiked everything from talus to gravel, and sand to forest.

hiking boots

Things to consider when buying hiking boots

Hike Duration

If you are going for a quick walk through the woods, you might need a pair of boots that can stand the test of time but aren’t too expensive. If you are planning a long-distance backpacking trip, you’ll probably have different needs.

Material

Traditional hiking boot construction features leather, but most brands also offer alternatives. The material can affect factors such as weight, waterproofness, and support.

Waterproofness

This feature will be essential for people who plan to trek through a wet forest or cross streams. A waterproof boot will have a layer or a membrane allowing for breathability while keeping out water and preserving your sock and foot. In the FAQ, we talk a bit more about the importance of having waterproof boots. Even if you plan to hike exclusively in the desert, everyone should have a waterproof hiking boot.

Arch support

The foot’s arch is susceptible to damage, so look for a boot that has good cushioning in the midsole area. Consider the shape of your arch as well. If you already have high arches, you may need additional arch support. For folks with low arches, excessive arch support can be tiring on the feet.

Stability

When walking on uneven and rough terrain, a stable hiking boot is a must-have. Look for a boot that keeps you stable and works with your natural foot shape to keep you balanced.

Traction

Traction is key on slippery and uneven terrain. You won’t need as much traction on well-developed and maintained hiking trails. However, if you’ll be crossing slippery rocks you’ll need solid traction. Traction is created through lugs, the deep grooves on the bottom of the shoe, or the outsole. The deeper the lugs, the more grip and traction.

Types of hiking boots

Hiking boots protect the feet and provide ankle support while the wearer is out hiking.

Hiking shoes

These are all-around shoes are suitable for most terrain and short-term use. These are good for beginners and general day-to-day activities. They are generally lighter than hiking boots.

Day hiking boots

These boots are usually much more lightweight than traditional backpacking boots and tend to be waterproof. They also stand up to longer periods of use, although you will need to take good care of them. Consider getting a pair if you plan to go camping.

Backpacking boots

These will have firmer soles and shanks for reinforcement and protection. They are designed for long-term use and will last for several years if you take care of them.

Trail runners

Trail runners bridge the gap between running shoes and hiking shoes. Trail runners are great for short hikes or running on rough terrain.

hiking boots

Hiking boots FAQ

Q: Do I need waterproof boots?

If you will only be hiking in the desert where it rarely rains, you may not need waterproof boots. However, for most folks, I would recommend waterproof footwear because being caught in the rain on technical terrain in a boot that isn’t fit for purpose can be dangerous.

Q: How do I know if my hiking boots fit?

Your boots should feel snug and comfortable, but you should still be able to wiggle your toes. If you are concerned about the fit of your boots, look for a boot with a warranty or return policy.

Q: Can I wash my hiking boots?

Yes, most hiking boots can be cleaned. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when cleaning them. Different boots will have different materials like Nubuck leather, a Vibram sole, or synthetic uppers, and each material will require different care.

Q: What are the best socks for hiking?

Get something padded and breathable. You want to avoid too much moisture in the boot to prevent nasty infections and general discomfort. Many brands make breathable socks, but you can also opt for socks with anti-microbial silver or extra cushioning.

Q: What are the best ways to lace your hiking boots?

People with narrow feet should consider tying their boots with a bow at the bottom. This method helps keep the front part of the boot closed for extended periods and fits the boot more snugly to your foot.

Consider a heel-lock method that helps prevent heel lift, ease forward movement, and supports you when descending steep trails.

Creating a “window” with your laces at certain points in the eyelets can help alleviate the pressure people feel with a broader foot. Look into some of the patterns used, try them out, and see where there is less tension when walking.

Alternatively, you might prefer the way the manufacturer has laced the boot. Many boots use a crisscross layout so that when you pull the string, the laces tighten immediately.

Q: Should hiking boots be tight or loose?

Hiking boots should fit snugly all around with room to wiggle your toes. There really isn’t a tight or loose feeling. If you can, try on the boots with your hiking socks in person and ensure a snug fit where your foot doesn’t slide around as you walk. Ensure you can wiggle your toes and that the toe box has some space but that your toes are not sliding forward or backward. Keep in mind that not all hiking boots will fit your foot, so you may need to try on multiple pairs to find the right size, shape, and support.

Q: Can you wear hiking boots for walking?

You can absolutely use hiking boots for daily walks to support your feet and gait. You may want a pair of lightweight hiking boots for this purpose. Many folks prefer to wear hiking boots as their daily driving shoe, especially if they have long walks to work, have foot problems, or live in a wet climate where a hiking boot can provide excellent wet weather protection.

Sources:

  1. How to Lace Hiking Boots – REI Co-op

Tuesday Kirby Kahl

Tuesday Kirby Kahl is a native Texan now residing in Portland, OR. In addition to her work as a writer, she’s a competitive climbing coach for youth and adult athletes. When she’s not working, you’ll find her rock climbing, exploring, skiing, and paddle boarding all over the Cascades. When at home, she’s usually tending to her collection or houseplants or painting with a cup of tea in hand.