Last Update: 10 Jan 2021
Best Hiking Shoes 2021: If you have been bitten by the hiking bug, you already know how crucial it is to have the best gear at your disposal. But here we are not going to talk about the things that you need to carry in your hiking backpack to make camping or other activities easier.
No, here, the focus of our discussion will be something that is considered to have a grassroots level importance when it comes to traveling long distances on foot. Well-fitting footwear can make a world of difference in the quality of the time that you spend on foot. And this is why if your search for the best hiking shoes has brought you to this page, well, we assure you that you are in good hands.
Let’s have a look at top 3 best picks –
10 Best Hiking Shoes 2021
Now that we have established everything that you might need to know about buying the best hiking shoes for your requirements, now we move on to our top 10 selection. Note that this list of the best hiking shoes has been compiled keeping in mind all the different factors that we have mentioned above, namely shoe structure, material, comfort, and price. Read on to know about the best hiking shoes for you and their brands.
Best Hiking Shoes for Men
#1. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX Hiking Shoe
Being a cross between a runner’s and a hiker’s dream, The North Face Ultra 19 GTX is a great choice for those who want heavy duty backpacking, hiking, or even moderate trekking. While they are a good looking pair, you will soon learn to look past its appearances and get down to the meat of it. First things first, these shoes provide the wearer with unbelievable stability- something that most hiking shoes are not particularly reputed for. But with these on your feet, you will be able to carry more weight without fearing the chance of losing your grounding. Not only are these shoes designed to keep you comfortable during your treks, but they can also be taken virtually anywhere, from wet, slippery mud to high boulders that need to be scaled with effort.
You can walk keeping your eyes ahead wearing these shoes. The upper is constructed from a combination of synthetic and natural fabrics, which provides as much breathable comfort as a pair of suede shoes, thanks to the waterproof breathable mesh protection. But the true draw of these shoes lies at the lower part. Both the midsole and the outer sole are packed with features that add more protection to the individual parts of your feet, and along with that, comfort and stability. All in all, these shoes are up to as many tasks as you are.
#2. Vasque Juxt Multi-Sport Shoe
Our day hikes can take us to different kinds of terrains, some of them more difficult to scale across than others. For many of us, dry areas can be just as challenging as wet conditions- something that you can only understand if you have ever trekked across a desert. But not many hiking shoes are up for the challenge.
Well, many, except one prominent example, that being the Vasque Juxt. Hailed as a multi-sport shoe rather than hiking shoes, we found that while you will find far more feature-packed options specifically meant for hiking, these shoes perform the best where most of the other fail.
They are not waterproof, which is something that you must know at the outset. But that is not a drawback, considering that non-waterproof hiking shoes are preferred by many for their comfort and natural breathability.
And on that front, the Vasque Juxt, with its breathable upper, is amazing. Equally impressive is the overall construction of the shoe, which ends in a terrific sole that lets the wearer travel on sand, stone, and gravel, with equal ease.
You will never feel the kind of control with any other pair on loose, shifty terrains than what you will feel with these. What seals the deal is the budget price, ranking it among the best hiking shoes under 100 USD for arid areas.
#3. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Ii Waterproof Hiking Shoes : Best Hiking Shoes under $100
If you are easily alienated by a lower price tag, equating it with the lack of latest features, you must take a look at this great pair from the house of Columbia. One of the best hiking shoes under 100 USD, the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus li Waterproof Hiking Shoes are real trailblazers when it comes to tracks with moderate difficulty. Mind the fact that they are not for people who require a great deal of support, so if you have flat feet, or have different structural demands, then we suggest you look at some of the other options on our list. However, if you are used to walking around a lot, looking for new challenges to scale, then these shoes might be made for you.
The high ankle design with superior cushioning, thereby adding to the comfort factor. But thanks to the phenomenal support that they provide to the part of your feet that matter the most, you will have no problems wearing them to treks and hikes that make high demands of your feet and ankles. The outer part of the shoe is made from durable leather, which can hold up to water well enough up to a point. The capable traction, the responsive midsole, and the lightweight construction all make them the perfect hiking shoes on a budget.
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#4. Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex Men’s Hiking Shoes
For those who do not wish to compromise on any of the aspects that we have highlighted above, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes would probably be the best pair of trail beasts to invest in.
These shoes have been designed with some of the best technology in existence in the shoe-making industry today, although once you slip them on, none of the details will matter, only the comfort that comes with a lightweight build and ample flex, and the assurance of keeping your feet high and dry, even in worse weathers.
But for the sake of knowledge, we will detail some of the aspects that bowled us over the most. Made from a combination of leather and synthetics parts, the X Ultra 3 Gore-Tex shoes have a durable rubber sole that provides an enviable amount of stability in any terrain.
Users have even reported being comfortable on sandy terrains. The more rugged the terrain, the better you will come to understand the work that has gone to assemble the shoe. Moreover, the fully breathable water-resistant nature of these, thanks to the Gore-Tex build, will ensure that you stand with your feet dry even in a puddle. Want more? The laces are a highlight, with special attention having gone in to ensure they are stable, slip-free, and stay out of the way.
#5. Lowa Men’s Renegade II GTX LO Hiking Shoe
Maintaining a sturdy frame that keeps your feet well protected and providing good comfort do not always go hand in hand, but if you can shell out the money for the Renegade II GTX Lo hiking shoes from Lowa, then you are on the right track.
These shoes are one of the most popular high-end hiking shoes on the market and come in mid-top variants as well if you would like added support around your ankle. However, these shoes have been kept remarkably different from their larger version, owing to the functionality they cater to.
To this effect, the Renegade II GTX LO actually sports a sleeker build and manages to be quite a bit lighter than its larger counterpart. However, there has been no compromise in the legendary stability of these shoes.
To take a quick look at its features, these best hiking shoes for men are made of leather at the top, and sport a Climate Control footbed, finishing off with a Vibram Renovo outsole. Onc you slip into these shoes, you will notice immediately that the comfort factor is high. Moreover, the stable midsole provides ample support for most kinds of activities. The Vibram outsole provides great traction in wet or dry conditions, and you will not be disappointed in the fact that most users state that the break-in time is next to nil.
Best Hiking Shoes for Women
#6. KEEN Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
One of the most popular hiking shoes that has managed to maintain a cult status among serious hikers over the year, the Keen Targhee II is a great option if you like being close to the water, or braving any unknown. Few can stand up to the kind of traction it provides on wet grounds.
In fact, one of the first things you might notice are the lugs, which have been built for aggressive performance. The 4mm multidirectional lugs provide multidirectional support, which makes it wonderfully stable even on other kinds of trails, making it a true all-rounder.
The Keen Targhee II comes with an upper made of textile and leather, which not only makes it great to wear but also easy to clean and maintain. In fact, these shoes can look brand new even after multiple uses, provided you give them the love and care they deserve. And for the kind of price it comes for, that is almost unbeatable.
The heels have been kept high to protect the shoes and your feet from all the mud, and the odor control system keeps the shoes feeling fresh for a long time, even after long periods of wear.
#7. Merrell Chameleon Shift Traveler Hiking Shoe
Looking for a good looking rugged pair that will see you through many seasons? The Merrell Chameleon Shift Traveler Hiking Shoes can be the best choice for you in its range. The upper is made of durable suede leather and mesh combination that, although is not completely waterproof, but M Select DRY seals out water from the shoes and also provides breathable comfort and flexibility, without giving the blisters a chance.
The Vibram sole (Vibram is one of the most trusted names in sole making technology) provide great traction in wet or dry terrain. So it doesn’t matter if you come across some unexpected rains, resulting in slippery roads full of muddy puddles.
The air cushion heels are also a nice touch, making them well and truly shock absorbent. The low cut design allows plenty of air, and the M-Select FRESH odor-resistant lining provides additional breathable comfort so that you can continue your trek even in the sweltering heat.
While we said that these best hiking shoes for women are not completely waterproof, they are water resistants and dry significantly fast compared to other similar models. The laces are sophisticated too, ensuring that you do not need to continually mind them coming apart every now and then.
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#8. Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe
The Oboz Sawtooth low top hiking shoes are the exclusive offerings for women from the brand that specializes in some of the best hiking shoes on the market. While they are on the heavier side, and thus, not a preferred option for those who want to go easy on their feet, many experienced hikers find this to be one of its advantages.
The weight holds your feet firmly in place, helping you lug a significant amount of weight on your back and still keep you firmly planted in the ground. The upper part of the shoes is made from leather and fabric, and the rubber sole has a heel that measures roughly 1.5 inches from the ground up.
Moreover, it sports a dynamic lug design on the sole, and all of these elements come together to create a shoe that can be worn anywhere and is really easy to clean and maintain. The heel is a great feature to have on the shoe for hiking in the mud, and it also acts as a deterrent to kicking up tiny gravels into your shoes.
For those who are used to a lot of flex, you may find it a bit on the stiffer side. But the stiffness comes from carrying some great protection and comfort-oriented features on the inside, including an anatomically designed insole to fit your feet perfectly, Dual Density EVA midsoles, and a 3D molded heel counter.
#9. Hoka Tor Summit WP Women’s Walking Shoes
Looking for a pair of shoes that pack in that elusive combination of all-day comfort and great support? Buy the Hoka Tor Summit WP Women’s Walking Shoes and see that it isn’t an illusion.
Right off the bat, these shoes are walking shoes, and for that reason, comfort comes first. With a little to no break-in period, these shoes come with a sturdy midsole to make sure you get ample support for walking around and doing chores. However, it is, in fact, this same feature that makes it one of the best hiking shoes for women.
Note that being walking shoes, they lack the kind of traction that one will expect from, say, the Sawtooth. But having tested the Hoka Tor Summit, we can safely say that they are a great option for comparatively straightforward trails.
These shoes are also one of the best hiking shoes waterproof, courtesy of the Event Waterproof Breathable Membrane, which makes them prepared to handle the elements if you come across a sudden downpour. The leather upper looks and feels great too. But the real hero is the midsole, which provides great traction for a walking shoe and a geometry that is hard to beat.
#10. Adidas Outdoor Women’s AX2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe
The Adidas AX2 Hiking Shoes are a great pair to go for if you are an occasional day hiker who wants an attractive pair of shoes to see them through moderate trails. These shoes can be bought in an array of colors, so if you find neutral boring, then these are the ones to go for.
More importantly, they are pretty comfortable to wear on moderate trails and provide breathable comfort, even for those who suffer from sweaty feet all the year round. The USP of these shoes, besides being attractive, is that they are lightweight. These make them ideal for the hiker who does not want a lot of weight on their feet forcing them to hold back on their agility.
Made from synthetic materials, they are both easy to clean and to dry, so there is nothing to worry about if you get them wet or all muddied up. For all its focus on the exterior, it is also a heavyweight when it comes to its hiking-oriented features. The midsole support is excellent, and the multidirectional traction is great for optimal control on wet and dry tracks. In addition to these, the adiPRENE cushioning takes care of the shock absorption front.
Hiking Shoes Vs Boots: Is There A Difference?
We kick off our discussion about the best hiking shoes brands with a clarification that is left wanting in most cases. We have already covered the importance of best hiking boots before, so if you have been there before, you may wonder what the point is in compiling another long post about trekking/ hiking footwear. This happens because most are not clear about the differences between the two. Aren’t boots a type if shoes in themselves? Well, in that case, you need to be aware of the distinctions between the two.
The main differences between hiking shoes and hiking boots lie in two crucial aspects: structure and purpose. And these two are interrelated too. Structurally speaking, boots are immediately recognized by the raised collar they have at the ankle. Many claim that this design helps in stabilizing the ankle, thereby reducing the chances of injury to the ankle area.
When you are out on difficult trails, especially rocky ones, you may injure yourself because of the added strain that your feet undergo because of the difficult angles that your feet have to adjust themselves to. But besides preventing injuries, the ankle support also has another significant purpose to serve: that is, keep the creepy crawlies out of your feet while you are in them. This is why boots are often the footwear of choice for forest hikes.
Hiking shoes, on the other hand, give the collar a miss. But while one may think that this may result in a lack of substantial protection, it is essential to consider the purpose for each, which was our second point in the distinctions between shoes and boots. Hiking boots are more heavyweight, being the footwear of choice for those who do venture out for multi-day treks, in colder locations, and challenging terrains.
The best hiking shoes, with their lack of a collar, are on the other hand the ideal choice for day hikers, casual trekkers, and the occasional camper. If your hiking requirements are restricted to plain grasslands to spend a wonderful day out in the sun, then hiking shoes will be the better fit out of the two.
Besides, because of the fact that they are considerably lightweight compared to hiking boots, hiking shoes keep your feet cooler by allowing more air in. Also, they don’t put a lot of pressure on your feet even when you are walking around for a longer time. On the downside, if you are on a mountainous terrain, you may find tiny rocks finding their way inside your shoes.
Best Hiking Shoes Buying Guide
Just like boots, in order to find the best hiking shoes 2021 for your purposes, you have to do a fair bit of research to ensure you don’t end up picking up the wrong ones. This is because, hiking shoes can be just as diverse as their raised-ankled siblings, making it necessary to be well acquainted with market trends and your own needs.
The primary importance must be given to the weight of the pair that you feel comfortable with lugging around all day long. While these shoes are meant for shorter trips, there is no point in ignoring the fact that you are going to be on your feet for the most part. This is why the weight of your footwear must be your first consideration.
Know that with today’s shoe manufacturing technologies, a lightweight pair does not equal to a flimsy pair. Most of the weight in your hiking shoes will go into the sole, which is required to be like that for optimum protection and comfort.
But there are newer models that retain these factors even while shaving off excess weight. If you are a minimalist at heart, then you may be better off with these, although be aware that such units are more expensive.
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The best hiking shoes can be made of anything ranging from natural hides and durable synthetic materials. But although you may prefer one over the other, it simply isn’t restricted to your preference alone. For, the upper material of your hiking shoes will depend largely on the kind of activity they are meant for. So if you expect to cross a number of brooks during your trail, then it is generally a good idea to steer clear of leather.
Nylon materials work wonders for all kinds of wet weather situations because they tend to dry earlier and more evenly. They also suffer much lesser water damage than their leather counterparts. However, some leather shoes can be made for the water too. We have found that in our experience, leather shoes work out best in colder weathers, while nylon is a better option if you expect to sweat a lot or indulge in a few splashes with your shoes on.
When on a hike or a summer trek, no one can predict when they will be hit by the rains. Most moderate distance treks may also require the shoe wearer to cross several creeks, and it is not always possible to take off your shoes for the purpose. Besides, it isn’t very safe to go without your shoes either, and one injury to your feet can end up disrupting the entire plan.
No wonder then, that most seasoned hikers and backpackers prefer to have on waterproof hiking shoes rather than the other kind. Not only does waterproofing keep your shoes safe from the occasional splash, but the extra layer also leads to longer life.
The only reason that may hold some users back from buying waterproof hiking shoes is the fear of added weight. But modern waterproofing materials hardly weigh much more than the normal kind. For optimum results, it is best to invest in a waterproof pair.
Along with waterproofing comes another important factor. As good as your hiking shoes may be, they also have to be able to provide the best in terms of comfort. And without ample air circulation inside the shoes, you will be left with sweaty, and even smelly feet. And keeping your feet stuck inside poor hygiene conditions may also lead to infections.
When you expect to be on your feet for most of the day, you must opt for a pair of waterproof hiking shoes that are also breathable. Look for mesh linings with sweat wicking properties for the best results. However, there are a few things to keep in mind on this front. Mesh, although an important component, can end up affecting performance.
This means that it is not ideal for hiking shoes to be covered in mesh, whether on the outside or inside. Non-waterproof shoes, on the other hand, do a better job at keeping your feet cool. So if your next hike is, say, in a desert, it is better to buy this kind for your feet rather than the waterproof breathable kind.
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While laces have always been the popular choice, velcro closure in shoes has elbowed its way into the market over the last decade. Traditionalists generally opt for laces because, besides fastening, they can also be adjusted to help provide your feet with the kind of support they require.
However, many times we have been lured by a pair that seemed to be the best hiking shoes all around until we realized that the laces were ludicrous. Most of us tend to overlook this part, which plays one of the most crucial roles in determining the best hiking shoes. Look for laces that are anti-slip, which will let you skip the awful task of having to re-tie them every few steps.
Coming to the other option, velcro works great as a closing system, and can be adjusted as well, although not quite as much as laces. However, unless you are one hundred percent confident with your purchase, we would recommend you to reserve the velcro for other uses. Most shoes would expand a bit with use, and laces would help combat a poor fit far better than velcro.
A serious hiker would be ready and willing to take on any kind of terrain. However, if your shoes are not quite up for it, neither will you be. An unexplored trail can take you across many obstacles, such as tiny rocks that tend to get stuck or kicked up into your shoe, slippery mud, and big, edgy rocks that are much harder to climb without the proper support. The best hiking shoes will live up to all of these daunting tasks.
And this can only be achieved with a help of solid traction, although be warned that a single pair will probably not hold up to all of the possibilities that you may encounter. All activity-oriented shoes will be built around the traction, but gym shoes and off-road shoes will vastly differ in the kind of traction.
Before you buy the pair that you like, be sure to check its underside for the groove patterns. The larger the individual grooves, the better support you will get on surfaces where you are likely to slip. Smaller, more flexible grooves, on the other hand, are great for climbing rocks.
No matter how many features your shoes may pack in, or however great a deal you might be getting at the local store. Buy the shoes only when you are comfortable in them. No one wants to be stuck in the middle of a trek with blisters on their feet.
Finally, we come to what happens to be (although not ideally) one of the biggest for most common folks like ourselves. While some of the selections might be on the expensive side, know that they have been chosen only because of the fact that they are some of the very best. But that does not mean that there are no cheaper options that can get you the best bang for the buck. This list has something for everyone, so we are certain you will find the best fit for your needs.
This list of the best hiking shoes has been divided into dedicated sections for men and women for optimum convenience and includes only the best shoes that stand unbeaten across most kinds of tracks, even tricky ones. The best hiking shoes will be your best friend when you are out in the wilderness, on your own, and you don’t want to end up with cramped feet or blisters.
So we advise you to try your shoes in normal conditions weeks ahead of your planned trip and let them go through with their break-in period. Also, make sure to buy your shoes around the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest. We hope that you find your pick here, and have a great trek in them.