Best Hiking Shoes
Hiking boots are a wonderful thing when it comes to backpacking treks and more aggressive trails, but for quick day hikes and trail runs, hiking shoes are preferable to boots for several reasons. For starters, they weigh less. You typically won’t need the heavier features of a more rugged boot for day hikes (such as advanced waterproofing and sole features), and trail runners will especially appreciate not having to carry that excess weight in their shoes.
Additionally, hiking shoes offer increased ventilation to help keep your feet cool and dry. A good pair of hiking shoes will also include solid foot support and toe protection since you certainly will, at some point, accidentally kick a rock or pointy object. Traction and water resistance may also be important to consider if the trails you frequent have slick sections or pass thru areas with water.
When researching these best hiking shoes for this list, traction, durability, toe and foot protection, ventilation, and degree of water resistance were all heavily considered. Special emphasis was also placed on consumer experiences and reviews.
Montrail Men's Mountain Masochist II Trail Running Shoe
Teva Men's Raith eVent Waterproof Hiking Shoe
KEEN Women's Voyageur Hiking Shoe
Merrell Men's Trail Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe
Merrell Women's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe
This is a tough, lightweight, protective shoe that performs beautifully on hikes and backpacking trips. The lacing system melds the shoe to your foot for an amazingly snug fit while the tongue is great at keeping out small rocks and dirt. The full-length protective plate effectively reduces shock and pokes from uneven, pointy surfaces. These shoes are also fantastically grippy thanks to the angled forefoot blades and perform very well on wet rocks and slick surfaces.
This hiking shoe is designed for more aggressive hikes and activities. The eVent waterproof fabric shields your foot like a champ during water crossings and is surprisingly breathable; your feet will obviously heat up a bit more in this shoe compared to non-waterproof membrane alternatives, but that is expected. The rubber sole offers incredible grip on virtually any trail terrain you will come across. This shoe also includes Teva’s Shoc Pad in the heel to keep shock absorption in your shoe instead of in your joints. Last but not least, the Mush insole is extra comfortable and supportive.
The Voyageur is a stellar choice for keeping the toes and soles happy. The shoe's rubber toe bumpers and carbon rubber outsole offer excellent interior protection from toe-jamming and exterior protection from toe stubbing on rocks and upraised roots. It is also remarkably breathable thanks to mesh ventilation windows and offers killer grip due to the multi-directional lugs on the outsole. The leather is also water resistant and dries quickly when wet.
This hiking shoe is an excellent choice for hikers and adventurists who desire a barefoot experience but don't want to sacrifice comfort or traction. The Vibram outsole offers a hefty amount of grip for such a minimalist shoe. The mesh lining helps keep your foot cool and ventilated during hot climbs. A rock plate in the forefoot helps decrease bruising and hot spots by absorbing shock from rocks and uneven terrain. This shoe also incorporates a few reflective details to help keep you visible to others in low light situations.
Merrell shoes are a perennial favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and the Moab Ventilator more than adds to that reputation. These multisport shoes are a great accessory for anything and everything outdoors. They are extremely supportive, flexible, and breathable for a hiking shoe. The toe/heel bumper protection and air-cushioned heel effectively work together to ensure overall foot comfort and shock absorption. Many users often report how impressed they are with this shoe's durability and longevity.
My husband and I have backpacked through diverse terrains ranging from the rugged wilderness areas of Yosemite and King's Canyon to the more beginner friendly paths of Lake Tahoe. Next year we are even planning to undertake the glorious 200+ miles of the John Muir Trail. We have hiked 12,000 foot passes, traversed rushing rivers, set up impromptu camps on everything from solid snow to granite outcroppings, and seen the wonders of hidden pristine lakes and patches of snow that remain year-round. Our experiences with wildlife including bears, deer, rattlesnakes, and bugs that we didn't even know existed have helped us refine our gear list to be as prepared as possible in the most light-weight, compact way. We have near perfected the art of campsite setup and teardown and can literally create a home away from home in mere minutes and pack it back up in the same amount of time. My husband's insatiable need to be in possession of the latest technological backpacking advancements has allowed us to experiment with many different types of equipment and even varying editions of the same piece of equipment. Even our honeymoon was a 55-mile backpacking adventure. Let's just say it's an obsession.
I look forward to helping you sift through the many options in the backpacking world to find the gear that will help make your trip (and many more to come!) unforgettable. Happy trails!