Top 10 Best Hiking Shoes For 2018

When you made your plan to go hiking for the weekend, you find yourself in front of a very difficult decision: which hiking shoes would be better for your next hiking trip? As soon as you start researching the wide variety of hiking shoes you begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of the details available. If you are looking for the first pair of hiking shoes in your life the decision could be even more difficult.

If you want to have a great adventure outdoors owning a comfortable pair of hiking shoes is crucial. It does not matter how experienced you are, if you do not feel comfortable while hiking, all your outdoor activities will be strangled. We have created this article to help you to choose the best hiking shoes available and also provide more information to know what would suit you best.

What Are The Differences Between Different Types Of Hiking Shoes?

Hiking Shoes

These are low-cut shoes that will be an excellent companion during day hiking. Their midsoles are flexible and they are a perfect match for ultra light backpackers. This type of hiking shoes are designed with the demanding terrain in mind. They are usually waterproof, windproof, and with good feet breathability.

Hiking Boots

When you carry more than 35 lbs and go for hiking in mud or snow, you will need a pair of hiking boots. Thanks to their mid cut, they will protect your ankle and keep your feet warm during cold weather. The main difference between the hiking boots and shoes is that the boots have a higher cut.

Trail Runners

They are very light and perfect for those who like running in nature and do not carry heavy backpacks. If you are a thru-hiker, these shoes will be exactly what you need. In comparison to the hiking shoes these ones are not very durable and offer less support.

Backpacking Boots

Just like the name says, these boots will support you when you carry heavy loads. They have a high cut that will offer extra support to your ankle. These boots are durable and have stiffer midsoles. They are great if you can use them on a tough terrain as they will absorb any impact and stabilize your feet.

Parts Of The Hiking Shoes

Upper

The top part of a hiking shoe is called upper. The upper supports your ankle and foot. As it will protect your foot against various environment elements, it needs to be waterproof and let your feet breathe. The uppers are usually made of the following materials:

  • Full-grain – this is a smooth and shinny leather being very durable and non-abrasive.
  • Split-grain – this leather will surprise you with its breathability and lightweight.
  • Nubuck – it is a flexible leather on which you can use various waterproof agents. They will help you protect your hiking shoes.
  • Synthetics – you will find it in modern boots and will impress you with its lightweight. It dries faster and is cheaper, but it breaks faster.

Midsole

Even if it is not visible, it is a very important element of a hiking shoe. It ensures the flexibility of your shoes and is shock resistant. They determine how stiff your hiking shoes will be. When you go for a light walking, the flexible midsoles are the best. Otherwise, the more rigid ones are just perfect for a demanding terrain. The most common materials are the following:

  • Ethylene-vinyl acetate or EVA – it provides a great shock absorption and internal support, being also one of the cheapest solutions.
  • Polyurethane – you will find it in light and soft shoes. It will not flatten or lose its shape over time.
  • Shank – this material is inserted usually between midsole and outsole. It will add extra stiffness. You will not find it in lightweight trail shoes.
  • Plate – offers extra support and will protect you when you walk on rocks or roots.

Outsole & Lugs

It determines how good the traction with the ground surface is. The thread is the most important element when we talk about the outsole part. When you approach muddy ground, the deeper thread is the better it will grip with the surface. For less muddy, but more rocky terrain the shallower thread is better. Lug pattern of the outsole plays an important role on the shoe’s traction properties. If you like to go backpacking or mountaineering, we recommend you to opt for deeper and thicker lug pattern.

Insole

A high-quality insole offers a good orthotic support. It ensures that your feet stay comfortable during hiking. It offers stability and support. Insoles in some shoes are made removable, so it is easier to wash them or dry. Insole can be made of the following materials:

  • Carbon insoles are perfect for flat feet or heel spurs.
  • Sport insoles are usually made of elastic rubber and are excellent shock absorbers.
  • Cork insoles are usually recommended to diabetics. They absorbe perspiration.
  • Biomechanical insoles are made of plastic, aluminum or graphite. They are combined with cork most of the time.
  • Silicone insoles asborb shocks and keep the same density throughout the insole.

Toe Bumper

It is a layer of material placed on the toe of your hiking shoe. It is usually made of rubber and it is strong enough to protect your toes against any sharp hazards or other obstacles. It reduces the risk of pain or discomfort whenever you accidentally hit your toe against a hard object.

Criteria For Choosing The Best Hiking Shoes

Stability

The best hiking shoes should protect your ankle and allow you feel balanced on the trail. Especially on a rough terrain, stable hiking shoes will protect you against slipping.

Weight

The hiking shoes should be light enough to let you feel comfortable while hiking. There are 3 categories of hiking shoes: lightweight, mid-weight, and heavyweight. The lighter the shoes, the easier it will be for you to advance on the trail.

Traction

Evaluate if the tread pattern and the shoe’s material match the terrain you are going to explore. It ensures that you hike safe and comfortable. When you climb hills or walk down inclines, the traction will keep you on track and prevent from slipping.

Waterproof

It is important that you feel comfortable during hiking. A waterproof material will allow your feet breathe better.

Comfort

You should take into consideration if they are breathable, support your joints, or keep your feet warm. Your shoes should be comfortable from day one you wear them, irrespective the type of terrain you approach.

Durability

The hiking shoes made of blend of materials, will make them extremely durable. Especially when you go on long trails, your shoes should resist to any type of conditions.

How To Choose The Best Hiking Shoes?

Define Your Objectives

When you looking for the best hiking shoes, you need to take into consideration the most difficult terrain that you are going to explore. If you want to save money and not buy several pairs, you can choose one pair that is versatile enough to protect you on a tough or easy terrain. As long as you know the primary use and the terrain’s difficulty level, it will be very easy to choose your hiking shoes.

Water Resistance

If you want to obtain the best waterproof hiking shoes, you can do it in two ways: either it has an inner membrane which is waterproof or you add chemical for the upper part, which increase waterproofing characteristics to your shoes. For example, Gore-Tex is the most common material used by many producers that will keep hiking shoes waterproof. You will also see some shoes on the market that have a polyurethane coating to prevent water from entering your shoes.

Proper Fit

Even though it is very difficult to find the right fit, there are some tips that you can try. When you try them on, it is recommended to wear a pair of socks similar to the ones you are going to wear during hiking. If you want to use any foot bed inserts, it is better to bring those with you as well. In case you are not sure about the size, you can consider at least half size bigger shoes than you usually wear.

Weight

As you most probably already know, your body will spend more energy to carry the weight on your feet, than the one on your . Keeping this in mind, you should select the shoes that will be light enough to not slow you down during hiking. In general, a lighter shoe will allow you move faster and better.

Toe Protection

As you are hiking on various terrains, accidents can sometimes happen. The toe is the most exposed part for a hiker. This is why a good hiking shoe should have a rubber toe protection. It will reduce the risk to feel pain if you bump into something.

Materials

The materials of the good pair of hiking shoes should respect your feet anatomy. The upper part should offer breathability and be water resistant. The lining should protect your feet from sweating and provide insulation. The materials used in insole, midsole and outsole should offer maximum comfort and stability.

Is It Possible To Use Trail Running Shoes For Hiking?

Even though the tradition says that it is not possible to use trail running shoes for hiking, the experience tells something else. The main reason that stays behind using trail running shoes is that they offer a great torsional rigidity while also having an excellent grip. The trail running shoes are usually lighter than the hiking shoes. If we think on the comfort side, the trail runners will Even if you are walking on a dry weather, your feet will sweat and so your shoes will get wet. This is why the trail runners are better because they will help your feet get dry as quickly as possible. When you ford rivers, the trail runners will get dry extremely fast. You will not need to carry an extra pair of shoes or choose the dangerous option to cross the water barefoot.

When it comes to the weight, the trail running shoes are obviously lighter. Carrying less weight will give you more energy during a hiking day. The If you go camping, the trail shoes will be your best friends as well. You can now leave your Crocs at home as these shoes can be your perfect camp shoes. This is how you will save some weight on your backpack and you can use the space to take something else with you.

There are also other advantages provided by the trail runners while hiking. For instance, thanks to their light weight, they will enable you move faster and easier When you hike on a moderate terrain, you will notice that they offer an excellent traction.

Our Picks

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

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This pair of hiking shoes impresses with the stable platform, the great protection it offers for the feet and the amazing traction. If you have used these shoes for hiking or backpacking you will understand why this pair of shoes is in our top 10 choices because they are very comfortable. The midsole’s shank will help a lot whenever you deal with a harsh impact. Even though we are talking about a low-cut shoe, its hiking ability is so good that it can compete with many mid-cut boots on the market. If you are looking for a pair of hiking shoes that is able to resist, for example, during short backpacking trips then you will not regret this choice.

Pros

  • Versatile shoe
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • It cannot be considered the most durable
  • The upper part tends to absorb water

Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX

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The greatest quality of these hiking shoes is the increased level of comfort. Once you will start wearing them you will be impressed by the easiness to maneuver and how light they feel. The EVA midsole and Contragrip sole contribute to the comfort and grip levels. It is equipped with single pull-closure lace system designed to secure your feet while hiking. In comparison to many hiking shoes on the market, these ones will offer the same support and stability on a vertical and rocky mountain.

Pros

  • Increased comfort and stability
  • Lightweight
  • Single-pull lacing system

Cons

  • They are not ideal for wide feet
  • The lace system broke very quickly
  • Average ankle protection

Vasque Juxt

 

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When you are looking for a balanced report between cost and quality, then this model is going to be the winner for you. As long as you avoid water or a stormy weather, these shoes will do the best job. They are lightweight, comfortable and extremely versatile. If you have a narrow to average feet-well these shoes will fit you perfectly. For those who want to wear them also during a night out, they will look just fine. No wonder why they are considered among best men’s hiking shoes. Its clean and breathable design will protect your feet and make you love them from the first wear.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not very durable
  • Not waterproof

Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX

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Even though the single-lace system and modern design may seem appropriate to other models, Adidas manages to differentiate themselves with the athletic nature. In comparison to other similar products, these shoes are lighter and offer an increased stability. They look very nice even if you do not wear them on a hiking day. Their waterproof capacity is excellent even on intense storms.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • The upper part does not absorb water
  • Athletic design

Cons

  • On long distances, it lacks support for medium loads
  • Average comfort
  • Pricey

Hoka One One Tor Summit WP

Hoka One One Tor Summit WP

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Once you will start wearing these hiking shoes, you can say goodbye to the sore feet. Even though they are not the cheapest hiking shoes on the market, the level of comfort they are able to offer is excellent. Its torsional stability is incredible. They are able to support you during short backpacking trips, helping in reducing the stress on your knees. The leather used is of a great quality, letting your feet breathe on different weather conditions.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Good support
  • Breathable leather

Cons

  • They are not the most durable
  • Pricey
  • In loose sediment, the traction is not the best

North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX

 

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When looking for the best lightweight hiking shoes, we found that this model meets most of the requirements that would place it on the first place. The producer’s main principle is to cover as much ground as possible while being also as light as possible. Even though it is not the best shoe for fast packing, it offers stability, excellent underfoot support, being at the same time waterproof. The materials used, leather and mesh, offer a high degree of durability also. Thanks to the Vibram rubber it offers a good traction on difficult surfaces, being resistant enough for a day on the trail.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Stylish
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • It is not very good for fastpacking
  • The shoes feel a little cumbersome

Oboz Sawtooth Low Bdry

 

 

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Anyone who buys a pair of these hiking shoes will be impressed by two main characteristics: traction and stability. We are not talking here about the lightest shoes, but they can definitely compete for the title of the best trail running shoes for hiking. Even if you want to approach a rough terrain, these shoes will be sturdy enough to protect your ankles. They are waterproof and let your feet breathe even if you wear them all day long. Overall, this model of hiking shoes gains its clients because they are well-built. The solid platform offers security and stability to any type of feet.

Pros

  • Suitable for rugged terrain
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Weak waterproof characteristics
  • Some users consider them stiff

Merrell Moab 2 WP

 

 

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We included these shoes in the top of the best hiking shoes thanks to the waterproof membranes that let your feet breathe. They will protect your feet from the wet weather. The air cushions placed in the heels will increase the comfort and also add stability. For an extra comfort and stability, the producers also added EVA midsoles. You will feel that you have control over the terrain even if you descend at a quicker pace. For an increased stability and heel support, you have the molded nylon arch shank.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good traction
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not easy to clean

Keen Targhee II WP

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These low-cut shoes are one of the best hiking shoes for men on the market right now. They are so stable and durable that they have become the preferred shoes for many backpackers. They are very comfortable and will support your feet even on the roughest terrains. Due to its heaviness and bulky shape they are not the most comfortable shoes, but they have other characteristics that made us include them in this list. They can be the best choice for someone who adventures on walking several miles for days on end even if you wear a load. You will not feel any pressure on your knees or ankles thanks to the rubber sole. One important thing to know is that the sizes are a bit small. This is why the producer recommends to consider ordering half size in bigger to your usual shoe size.

Pros

  • Superior support
  • Robust toe protection
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Low waterproof characteristics

La Sportiva Wildcat

 

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If you are a fan of fast-moving day hikes during the summer, these hiking shoes will be exactly what you need. Their shock absorption is excellent. Your feet will breathe perfectly during the hot summer days. The outsole design is exactly what you need on a rough and varied terrain. The toe cap is minimalist so you will receive less protection than in the case of a regular hiking shoe and it may lead to sore toes. They also offer strong ankle support thanks to the TPU transkinetic heel stabilizers and UreTech reinforcements. If you are a light backpacker, you will not feel any pain or discomfort while wearing these hiking shoes.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Minimalist toe protection
  •  The European sizes do not match the International Size Conversion Chart
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