How To Select The Best Hiking Boots For Your Next Hiking Trip
Hiking environments are far from ideal. You don’t know what weather you’ll be in or what environmental conditions await you. For some, that spells adventure, and that defines what hiking enthusiasts consider challenging and fun.
One of the best ways to enjoy the experience to the fullest is to prepare for the activity and to have the right gears and equipment. This includes having the best hiking boots for your trip outdoors.
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
Importance Of Hiking Boots
Modern shoes are set apart by type from others with the features they have. Sports shoes, for instance, are best for playing sports because they enhance an athlete’s performance by complementing his or her agility and speed.
The same goes for hiking boots. An excellent pair of hiking boots is a worthwhile investment. The design of hiking boots enables the wearer to trek harsh terrains and protect the feet from water and extreme temperatures. It also protects the feet from injury, frostbite and animal and insect bites.
In addition, hiking boots keep your feet dry and warm and allow you to walk over muddy and slippery areas with ease. It allows you to walk over wet or stony areas where regular shoes can’t handle.
Perhaps the most important feature of hiking boots is their support. Hiking environments are often rigged with uneven terrain with stones and woods poking around. Hiking boots support your feet well by allowing it to perform twists and turns without much impact and thus protect your feet from injury.
Types Of Hiking Boots
You can choose from among the three types of hiking boots depending on your preference, type of hiking activity you’ll be engaged in and the type of hiking environment you will have:
This is the most comfortable of the types of hiking boots. Hiking shoes often sport soft and ultralight materials. The primary focus of this kind of hiking boots is comfort and ease of movement. These shoes often have flexible midsoles and are perfect for day hiking. Hiking shoes are only available in low-cut models.
Day Hiking Boots
Day hiking boots are also perfect for day hiking. Similar to hiking shoes, they are also intended for light loads and short camping or hiking trips. These shoes are flexible and more durable than hiking shoes. Day hiking shoes are available in mid- and high-cut models.
Of all the type of hiking shoes, backpacking boots are the most durable. They are made to accommodate heavier loads and are perfect for an extended camping or hiking trip.
Most of the backpacking boots are high cut and perfectly supports the ankles and feet. The midsoles of backpacking boots are stiffer compared to the two types of hiking boots mentioned.
What To Look For In A Pair Of Hiking Boots
To select the best hiking shoes for your needs, you need to know the different parts of a hiking boot and the effect of varying the type of materials for each part.
This pertains to the upper portion of the shoes. The kind of material used for the uppers determines the weight of the boots as well as other factors such as water resistance, durability, and breathability.
This type of material is a cheap option for uppers. The “split” in the name refers to the splitting of the smooth exterior of the cowhide to the rough interior. The downside of this material being cheap is that it has poor water and abrasion resistance.
Because of this material’s durability and its ability to resist water and abrasion, full-grain leather is often the choice for backpacking boots. Full-grain leather can withstand long trips, rough terrain, and heavy loads. This material, however, is less breathable and requires a sufficient break-in time before the shoes can be used for a trip.
This material is perfect for wet conditions or environment and hiking boots made out of this can easily resist water. What amazing about waterproof membranes is that they remain breathable despite having water resistance. Popular brands of waterproof membranes include eVent® and Gore-Tex®.
The breathability of this type of material, however, is not as great as split-grain. Another downside to this material is that, since it doesn’t allow moisture to enter or exit, the feet can accumulate moisture from sweat during summer, thus rendering this shoes unfit for dry conditions and environment.
This is a full-grain leather, but it closely resembles suede. It’s buffed to make it look like suede, but it can resist water and abrasion and is highly durable. Similar to full-grain leather, hiking boots made of this require an extended break in period before it becomes completely flexible.
The most common materials used for Nubuck leather are nylon, polyester, and synthetic leather. Shoes made of Nubuck leather dries quickly, breaks in for a significantly lesser time than full-grain leather and is relatively cheap.
The main disadvantage of nubuck leather is that it is less durable than full-grain leather and shows wear sooner.
Vegan is a type of synthetic leather. Usually, shoes made out of vegan materials target customers that do not want any product derived from an animal.
Insulation materials for hiking boot uppers are thick and are often multi-layered. The purpose is to maximize insulation. Shoes with this material are perfect for cold and wet conditions.
The midsole is the part of the shoes that is widely responsible for the shoes cushioning effect. The material for the midsole determines how efficiently the shoes absorb and protect the feet from impact and how stiff the shoes is. There are two materials used for midsoles:
Ethylene vinyl acetate is the standard material for the midsoles of lighter and softer hiking boots. If you’re planning to go on a short hiking or hiking in the daytime with a less challenging environment, then EVA is the perfect material for the midsole of your shoes.
Not only does EVA cushion the feet well, but it is also a relatively cheap material. Shoes with EVA midsoles, thus, cost less than shoes with Polyurethane ones.
This material is more expensive compared to EVA. The reason is that polyurethane is firmer and sturdier compared to EVA. If you want your hiking boots to last you long or if you want to go hiking for an extended period, then polyurethane is perfect for you.
Two important features that need to be present in the shoes are the shanks and the plates.
This part of the shoe can either cover half or the entire length of the midsole and is responsible for adding stiffness to the midsole. This does not only improve the durability of the shoes, but it also increases the ability of the midsoles to absorb impact.
Hiking exposes your feet to rough and uneven terrains. Often, you will have to trek paths that are filled with rough stones, poking roots or thick twigs. The inclusion of the plates between the midsole and the outsole ensure that your feet are protected from being punctured and bruised by these things when hiking.
Top 5 Best Hiking Boots Review
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
Compared to all hiking boots featured in this review, the Timberland Men's 6" Premium Waterproof Boot has a rather simpler design. Perhaps the intended purpose is to serve up to its name—being a boot for men.
The upper is clearly mad of nubuck leather which gives it a suede appeal. You’d expect this shoes to be highly durable (and thankfully, it is). However, the material is soft on the inside. It may seem quite uncomfortable on the outside, but it feels soft inside.
Soles are made of rubber thus it sports some degree of flexibility. However, the soles are not designed for maximum flexibility and do not have added cushioning effect.
One attractive feature of this boot is that it's available in wider sizes. Since its designed for men, it’s just logical that Timberland makes wider versions available.
- Available in 2E size. If you have a wide foot, you can purchase a model of this shoes in wider size compared to the usual.
- Simple design. You get what you see. It doesn’t give false hopes of intricateness, but it lives up to its promise of durability.
- Highly durable. This boot can last for years. Most hiking boot can’t match the durability of Timberland’s hiking shoes.
- Comfortable. The insides are soft.
- Waterproof. Shoes protect the feet from the water. Thus, the insides of the shoes remain dry and warm.
- Does not allow heat and moisture to escape. This shoe is not ideal for hot weather although compared to other shoes listed in this review, this one is more suited for the temperate environment.
- Moderately flexible. The outsoles are reasonably firm thus the shoes limit your movement.
The Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot is among the hiking boots that have a minimalistic yet attractive design. Timberland seems to live up to the culture of producing manly yet attractive and worthwhile hiking shoes.
Surprisingly, for a boot that does not appear to have a feature that allows air to escape from the inside, this one is breathable. Compared to Timberland Men's 6" Premium Waterproof Boot, the soles have a more sophisticated design and structure.
Also, the shoes multidirectional lugs ensure excellent traction. Thus, you can quickly accelerate, brake or climb without worrying about your feet or your shoes.
- Breathable. Allows moisture and heat to escape thus allowing your shoes to remain dry even during extended periods of hiking.
- Waterproof. The shoes prevent water from entering. Thus, you can use it to walk over muddy or wet terrains.
- Excellent traction. The soles have multidirectional slug thus you can run, walk, climb or accelerate with relative ease.
- Highly durable. The full-grain material of this boot is expected to endure long hiking periods and harsh terrains.
- Design issues. Some parts, such as the eyelid, can get removed quickly with minimal force. Timberland is yet to address that if it’s going to live up to its promise of durability.
- Requires break-in period. You have to use it for some time to improve its flexibility and comfort.
Often, the problem with waterproof shoes is that it also locks in moisture inside allowing the accumulation of sweat. The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot makes waterproofing possible while allowing breathability inside the shoes. As a result, your feet remain dry all throughout your hiking activity.
For maximum flexibility, the midsoles and outsoles are all rubber. The upper is made of nubuck leather.
As the name suggests, this hiking boot is available in mid-cut height. This maximizes ease of movement while still retaining support for the ankles.
- Comfortable. It’s a hiking boot, after all, so it’s designed for flexibility and ease of movement.
- Protects the ankles. Mid-cut shoes extend to the ankles and protect it from high impact force.
- Waterproof yet Breathable. Your feet remain dry by allowing air to circulate the insides of the shoes through the leather lining while preventing water from outside to enter the shoes. This is marketed as the keen.dry feature of the shoes.
- Has durability issues. You can’t expect this boot to withstand extreme environments and a hiking activity for an extended period. Some customers report issues with how the product is made. The most common problem with this boot is that most people experienced theirs to break after a few days of use.
One unique attribute of this hiking boot is that it has dual layers for its uppers—textile and leather. Coupled with its waterproofing feature, this shoes is perfect for the cold and wet environment.
The soles are made of EVA. Thus, you can expect that this boot is comfortable and is flexible. Instead of actual lugs, the shoe sports lug patterns. The removal of lugs increases the flexibility of the shoe and maximizes comfort.
The uppers feature breathable mesh that allows moisture from the feet to escape while preventing water from entering the shoes. Nonetheless, moisture does not escape efficiently. In addition, it locks in heat, so your feet feel warm. We don’t recommend this boot for hiking in summer or hot areas.
- Waterproof and breathable upper. Water from the outside can’t enter the shoes while moisture from the feet due to activity can escape.
- Highly flexible soles. The soles are made of EVA, and the shoes do not have any lug which results in maximum comfort and flexibility.
- Removable insole. Whenever debris gets caught in your shoes, you can quickly remove the insole to clear those out.
- Antimicrobial materials. The materials of the shoes are treated with antimicrobial solution. Thus, microbial growth can’t occur. This has the intended effect of keeping the shoes from smelling bad.
- A bit heavy. This is not ideal for long distance hiking since its quite heavy.
- Traps in heat. Its ability to let moisture escape is not efficient thus it keeps heat within the shoes. This shoe is not idea for how weather.
- Durability issues. Some customers report having their shoes broken after at least two weeks of continuous use.
This hiking boot has the best soles of the shoes in this list. The soles are made of four layers with each layer having a particular purpose. As a result, this shoes is capable of protecting your feet from all forms of impact, and it has excellent stability in all types of terrain.
The Salomon Men's Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot is surprisingly light. It looks bulky, but the materials used for the shoes are both durable and lightweight. Thus, this shoes is perfect for extended hiking activities over long distances of harsh terrain.
- Waterproof. Shoes prevent water from seeping in.
- Soles have four layers. This shoes is seriously stable and provides excellent protection to your feet.
- Removable footbed. You can quickly clean the insides of this shoes from debris.Exemplary outsole pattern. The outsoles have remarkable grip.
- Lightweight. This boot is ideal for hiking in an extended period over long distances.
- Soft and comfortable insides. The insides are made of fine and comfortable materials thus allowing a cushioning effect for the feet.
- Durability issues. Some customers report issues with toe guard coming off the boot and the sides tongue unraveling. Fortunately, Salomon responds to any issue as such and provides replacement without additional cost.
- Comfort issues. Although the insides are soft and comfortable, some users report having problems with the overall feel of comfort from using the shoes.
In deciding which of the hiking shoes listed in this article is the best, we considered two important factors among other factors to look out for: whether the shoes is waterproof or not and whether it allows moisture and heat to escape.
Often, hiking boots made of materials that prevent the entry of water also prevents the escape of moisture. In addition to other features such as impeccable durability and attractiveness of its design, we choose Timberland Men's 6" Premium Waterproof Boot. It has all the essential features a hiking boot must have, including durability, waterproof features, and breathability.
Do you agree with our verdict? Have you had any experience with hiking boots? Let us know in the comment section below.