Best Hiking Boots of 2023

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Hit the trails with the best hiking boots reviewed and recommended by Trailhead Traveler

Hiking is an exhilarating outdoor activity that allows you to immerse yourself in nature while exploring scenic trails and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting, having the right footwear is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience. In this article, we will explore the best hiking boots, best hiking shoes, and best hiking trail runners of 2023, helping you make informed choices for your outdoor adventures. Though no expert can tell you exactly what hiking footwear is best for you, this article will provide insight into some highly recommended brands to help you hike in comfort on your next outing! 

The Importance of Quality Footwear for Hiking

When it comes to hiking, the significance of wearing appropriate footwear cannot be overstated. Hiking involves traversing uneven and challenging terrains, which can put strain on your feet and ankles. Quality hiking footwear not only provides comfort and support but also protects against injuries and ensures you can tackle the trails with confidence.

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Different Types of Hiking Footwear

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are sturdy and durable, designed to provide excellent ankle support and stability. They are ideal for hikers tackling rugged terrains and carrying heavy backpacks. The robust construction and high-cut design protect your feet from rocks, roots, and other obstacles, making them a popular choice for challenging trails.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a more lightweight and flexible alternative to hiking boots. They offer a balance between comfort and support, making them suitable for various terrains and day hikes. Hiking shoes are an excellent choice for hikers who prefer a more agile and less restrictive footwear option.

Trail Runners

Trail runners are a hybrid between hiking shoes and traditional running shoes. They are designed for speed and agility on the trails and provide excellent traction. Hiking trail runners are popular among ultralight backpackers and hikers seeking to cover long distances quickly.

Best Women’s Hiking Boots

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Weight: 1lb 7oz

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX Hiking Boots are high-quality, mid-cut hiking boots designed for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. They feature a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining, providing protection against the elements. The boots offer excellent stability and support, making them ideal for challenging terrains and long-distance hikes, while the durable construction ensures reliable performance on various trails.

Honorable Mentions

Women’s Hiking BootWaterproofWeight
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking BootsWaterproof membrane1lb 13oz
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking BootsGORE-TEX2lbs 2oz
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX Hiking BootsGORE-TEX1lb 10oz

Best Men’s Hiking Boots

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

Waterproof: GORE-TEX
Weight: 1lb 14.4oz

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots are premium mid-cut hiking boots designed to deliver exceptional performance on the trails. Equipped with a GORE-TEX membrane, they offer waterproof and breathable protection, keeping feet dry and comfortable in wet conditions. These boots provide a secure and comfortable fit, with a supportive midsole and grippy outsole, making them ideal for various terrains and longer hikes.

Honorable Mentions

Men’s Hiking BootWaterproofWeight
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots Waterproof membrane2lbs 4oz
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots Dry waterproof breathable membrane2lbs 2.8oz
adidas Terrex Swift R3 Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots GORE-TEX 2lbs

Best Women’s Hiking Shoes

Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Waterproof: M Select DRY waterproof
Weight: 1lb 11oz

The Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoes for women are reliable and comfortable footwear designed for outdoor adventures. With a waterproof membrane, these shoes keep feet dry in wet conditions while providing breathability. They offer excellent traction and stability, making them suitable for different terrains, and their cushioned insoles ensure a comfortable hiking experience for women on the trails.

Honorable Mentions

Women’s Hiking ShoeWaterproofWeight
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes Dry waterproof breathable membrane1lb 9.2oz
adidas Terrex Swift R3 GORE-TEX Hiking ShoesGORE-TEX1lb 8oz

Best Men’s Hiking Shoes

Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Waterproof: Waterproof/breathable membrane
Weight: 2lbs 2oz

As with the women’s Moabs, the Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoes are a reliable choice for any hiker seeking durable, comfortable, and weather-resistant footwear. Their waterproof membrane keeps feet dry and protected from rain or wet terrain. They provide excellent traction and grip on various surfaces, enhancing stability and preventing slips during hikes. Finally, the cushioned insole ensures all-day comfort, reducing fatigue and allowing hikers to enjoy longer treks without discomfort. 

Honorable Mentions

Men’s Hiking ShoeWaterproofWeight
Danner Trail 2650 GTX Hiking ShoesGORE-TEX 1lb 5oz
Salomon X Ultra 4 GORE-TEX Hiking ShoesGORE-TEX1lb 11.2oz

Best Women’s Trail Runners

HOKA Speedgoat 5 Trail-Running Shoes

Weight: 1lb 1oz

The HOKA Speedgoat 5 Trail-Running Shoes offer several pros for trail runners. Firstly, they provide exceptional cushioning, reducing impact on joints and enhancing overall comfort during long runs. Secondly, the shoes feature a durable and grippy outsole, ensuring excellent traction on rugged terrains, making them suitable for various trail conditions. Lastly, the lightweight design of the Speedgoat 5 allows for agile movements, providing a responsive and nimble feel for runners seeking top-notch performance on the trails.

Honorable Mentions

Women’s Trail RunnerTrail TypeWeight
Brooks Women’s Cascadia 16 Trail Running Shoe Rugged-Trail1lb 1.9oz
Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail-Running ShoesRugged-Trail1lb 1.4oz

Best Men’s Trail Runners

Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes

Weight: 1lb 7.2oz

The Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes are designed to excel on challenging trails. With aggressive lugs on the outsole, they offer outstanding traction and grip on various surfaces, enhancing stability and confidence while running. The shoes’ lightweight and comfortable design, combined with the SensiFit construction, provide a snug and secure fit, ensuring a smooth and responsive trail-running experience for men.

Honorable Mentions

Men’s Trail RunnerTrail TypeWeight
Saucony Mens Excursion Tr15 Trail Running ShoeAll-terrain1lb 11.8oz
HOKA Speedgoat 5 Trail-Running ShoesRugged-Trail1lb 4.6oz

Factors to Consider When Choosing Hiking Footwear

Selecting the right hiking footwear requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure it suits your specific needs and preferences.

Terrain and Trail Difficulty

Consider the type of terrain you will encounter on your hikes. For rough and rugged trails, opt for hiking boots for optimal protection. For less challenging trails, hiking shoes or trail runners may suffice.

Comfort and Fit

Comfort is paramount during long hikes. Ensure that your chosen footwear fits well and has sufficient cushioning for shock absorption. Always try on footwear with the socks you’ll be wearing during hikes.

Ankle Support and Stability

Hiking boots offer the best ankle support due to their high-cut design. If you have weak ankles or will be carrying heavy loads, prioritize boots with robust ankle support.

Waterproofing and Breathability

Waterproof footwear is essential if you plan to hike in wet or muddy conditions. However, if you’ll be hiking in hot and dry climates, breathable footwear helps keep your feet cool and comfortable.

Traction and Grip

Look for hiking footwear with a reliable outsole that provides excellent traction on various surfaces, especially on slippery or uneven terrains.

Durability and Materials

Durable materials, such as quality leather or synthetic fabrics, are vital for long-lasting hiking footwear. Consider the expected lifespan of the footwear and choose accordingly.


What’s the Difference Between Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes?

Hiking boots provide more ankle support and are suitable for challenging terrains and heavy loads, while hiking shoes are more lightweight and versatile for less demanding trails.

Can I Use Hiking Trail Runners for Long Hikes?

Yes, hiking trail runners are a popular choice for long-distance hikers and ultralight backpackers who prioritize speed and agility on the trails.

Do I Need Waterproof Hiking Footwear?

Waterproof hiking footwear is necessary if you plan to hike in wet or muddy conditions to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

How Often Should I Replace Hiking Footwear?

The lifespan of hiking footwear varies based on usage and the quality of materials. As a general guideline, consider replacing them every 500 to 1000 miles of hiking.

Are Expensive Hiking Footwear Worth It?

While expensive hiking footwear often comes with advanced features and premium materials, there are also many budget-friendly options that provide excellent performance and comfort.


Choosing the right hiking footwear is essential for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Whether you opt for hiking boots, hiking shoes, or hiking trail runners, prioritize comfort, fit, and support. Consider the terrain and conditions you’ll be hiking in, and select the footwear that best meets your needs. With the right pair of hiking footwear, you’ll be ready to conquer the trails and create lasting memories in nature.

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