10 Best Hiking Shoes for Men & Women in 2017
Here we have received the best hiking shoes of this year, just for you. Believe it or not, your hiking experience is greatly dependent on the type of shoe you wear. It is THE most important part of the attire and the things to take along on a hiking trip.
Although many still overlook the importance, once you give these hiking shoes a try, you will feel a huge difference in the way things were before and after their addition to your gear. The speed, fatigue, feet comfort and ease of making through the rough terrain are a few of the major benefits these provide.
Most of the hiking shoes are designed to prevent injuries and the formation of blisters as well. However, with a huge array of designs, colors, types and brands, which one is the best hiking shoe?
Whether you are looking for the best hiking shoe for men or women, the answer rests on many factors. We have highlighted a few of the major considerations to make before buying in our detailed buying guide in the article, to help you find the right one.
To start with, lets have a look at our selected top ten best hiking shoes for the year.
Best Hiking Shoes for Men & Women
- EEN Men’s Targhee II Hiking Shoes
- Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Multifunctional Hiking Boot
- Adidas Men’s Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes
- Merrell Men’s Moab Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 Hiking Shoe
- Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3 Running Shoe
- Men’s The North Face Ultra 109 GTX Trail Running Shoes
- New The North Face Men’s Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiking Shoes
- Vasque Breeze III Low GTX Shoe – Men’s
- Lowa Men’s Renegade II GTX LO Hiking Shoe
Can't Find What You're Looking For?View More Hiking Shoe
Hiking Shoes Buying Guide
Choosing the right pair of shoes that actually fits is often as hard as finding your soulmate. Moreover, the purpose you want these shoes for is one prime factor you need to consider before setting out.
Hiking, as the name goes, is not an activity for the faint-hearted. It requires stamina, physical strength, a whole lot of gear and the right pair of shoes!
Your shoes can make a whole lot of difference in your trail. The more comfortable the feet gripped by a great pair of hiking shoes, the easier it will be for you to cover great distances. Since it is already one tiring experience, it is only healthy that your feet support you through your journey.
So to decide the right pair for your feet, you need to know the basics about the different hiking shoes. Heres a great video for all those who are new to the concept of these shoes.
First, let us see the types of hiking shoes and boots available in the markets today.
Types of Hiking Boots/Shoes
These have flexible center soles that make these great for hiking during the hot daytime. Most of the shoes are low-cut and are ideal for the longer hikes.
The hiking shoes have about everything the hikers need for going on the longer trails. These are long lasting, built with the high-grade material (hence often expensive) and give a comfortable grip to the foot. They also feature water and scratch resistance and are quite light in weight.
When compared to the hiking boots, these are much more comfortable and also gaining more popularity these days amongst the hiker communities.
Hiking boots are often the most sought after in the category by all the young and old. These are suitable for the longer hours and can support heavy weights. These also cover the ankles and are great for the rough terrain as well as the cold weather.
Light Hiking Shoes
These often look like the running shoes. Mostly preferred by the beginners and those who travel to shorter distances, these are low cut and great for the leveled terrains.
Mostly preferred by the avid mountaineers and other professionals, these boots are designed for the rough terrain. They support the middle part of the feet and also are great for carrying heavier loads. SO if you have a larger backpack, these tough mountaineering boots are the best for the job.
The Trail Runners
These are known for their lightweight design and give thorough support to the foot. If you are an avid hiker and love to take the longer trails, then these can be a great option for you.
- Day Hiking Boots
These are great for the day time and ideal for the shorter trips. They may be designed in the low or medium cut style and give you the flexibility you need on the uneven terrain. However, one downside is that these aren’t as durable as the others and not suitable for the longer hikes.
The backpacking boots are the best if you have a heavier physique or have a larger backpack to take along on the trail. Most of these are high cut, covering and protecting the ankle from injuries. These are supportive for the whole foot and last long. If you want the ultimate comfort for the long day trips, then these will be the best you can give to your feet.
Important Considerations When Picking the Hiking Boot
The Right Fit
All hiking boots are supposed to FIT PERFECTLY in every sense of the word. They should not be tight, or lose and give you enough room to settle those toes as comfortable as can be.
Since you are going to be wearing these shoes for a couple of hours at least, and the hike is a strenuous task as well, the shoes have to be comfortable.
The wrong size, wrong fit and even the extra tightness around the midsole can actually turn your hiking experience into an awful one.
Here are some tips to help you find the right size of the shoes for your hiking adventure:
- Try the shoes in the evening with the socks. Since the feet are at their most swollen stage of the day in the evening, you will have a better idea about the fit.
- Find out the exact size of the foot on the fitting device available at the stores; make sure to have it evaluated by a specialist at the outlet.
- In the case of buying online, you can also log on to REI.com and check out the size charts to determine the exact size at home.
- Check the size with the right type of socks. The very socks that you are going to wear or the orthotics you with to place inside.
- Take a little walk in those shoes to have an idea about the comfort, grip, and feel.
- If you are comfortable with a certain brand, always consider repurchase with the same later on too.
- Make use of the insoles if needed for more comfort and for achieving the right fit.
- Try the thick as well as the thin insoles and then see which one suits you best. This will help your foot get comfortable and adjusted to the shoe.
- Break into the boots before setting out.
- If you have smaller or low volume feet, try the thick woolen socks. These will help your feet stay snug and comfortable without requiring you to tightly tie the laces.
The right size of the shoe or boot keeps your foot well placed so that it does not slide and the chances of blisters are minimal. Make sure that the toes do not touch the front part of the shoes. Ideally, it should be at a half inch distance from the front.
Similarly, for the heels, try to leave about half an inch space behind it. Most of the times, the feet often swell a bit during the day on a long hike. So, these measures help to accommodate the foot with ease whereby providing the maximum support throughout.
One of the most annoying things to happen on a hike are shoes that turn out to be too tight or uncomfortable. These not just hinder your walk but also cause a major painful experience in case of the occurrence of blisters or wounds.
- Hiking during the Day: For hiking, during the daytime, you would be carrying a smaller backpack. Since the things needed during a day can easily be carried in a small backpack, you do not have to worry about the extra load.
- The Terrain: How even or leveled is the terrain you would be hiking on? If the path is leveled or smooth, you will need a separate set of shoes/boots, whereas for a rocky, uneven terrain such as the mountains etc. you need shoes that keep your feet well gripped and sturdy onto the ground.
- The Distance to Cover: The complete length of distance you wish to cover determines the number of hours youll be wearing your shoes. The shoes must be able to provide comfort in order to endure the environmental conditions during this time.
The hiking shoes have to provide the maximum support. You need to evaluate first, however, the total support you will be needing through your hiking.
This depends on a number of factors. Such as The total distance you will cover, the number of pounds you will be carrying and also how the terrain you would travel through is. Always remember the farther you wish to go, the more support the shoes must provide. Similarly, if the terrain is rough and you are carrying more than a few pounds, you will definitely need more support down your heels.
Another important consideration while hiking is that the feet should stay dry and sweat free. As long as the feet are dry, you can combat the weather extremities to a great extent as the dry feet are cooler in the summers and warmer during the winters.
If the feet get sweaty during the hiking, the chances of development of blisters increases. So, try to look for those types – especially if you are prone to sweating – which is made from the breathable membrane. Water resistance also helps to keep the feet from getting wet if the terrain has puddles or wet mud.
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Water resistant membranes help keep the feet warm and are great for the colder weather.
We recommend not to buy cotton socks to wear with these shoes. The most preferred of the lot are the synthetic and woolen socks as they are comfortable and softly cushion the entire foot.
Also, these dry rather quickly as compared to the other types so that you can replace and reuse easily on the hiking trips.
The purpose you are buying the shoes for is of most importance. Actually, the whole makeup of the shoe is determined by the actual purpose of it. It is also in turn dependent on the other factors we’ve covered in the article. However, you must keep this in the forefront when deciding the right shoe to buy.
Are you a professional or just a beginner at hiking? This too is very important when buying the hiking shoes. For the beginners, the heavier shoes that provide more traction are generally recommended. Moreover, boots also help against the injuries, particularly around the ankles, so if you are just getting started on this new hobby, look for the hiking boots.
For those who are professional mountaineers or experienced hikers, we recommend the light weighed shoes as they are well acquainted with all the hurdles they may encounter up to the terrain.
Since hiking is by no means an easy task, the shoes you wear must be built to withstand all the hurdles, rocks, weather conditions and other external factors. For this, you cannot compromise on the quality EVER.
Low-quality shoes may break down in the midst of the hiking, leaving you stranded without help for a long time. Moreover, they could lead to serious injuries, particularly on the ankle. So make sure to buy good quality shoes, preferable from a renowned brand. Even if it costs a couple of bucks more than the other types, if it’s worth it, spend it.
All in all, the beauty and look of the hiking shoe should be of the least importance. Your comfort, the shoe quality, traction, weight, and protection are what should be the major concern at all times.
- Type of Terrain
- Even Terrain
If the trail is leveled and also the backpack is easy to carry, then the low cuts or mid-cut shoes are ideal in such a situation. The boots are very stable and provide a great grip for the feet.
- Rough Terrain
For the uneven or rocky terrain, you need an additional grip. You must have the ankle covering boots for this type of terrain. These are usually made from the breathable membranes and the best for beating the heat on the go.
- When there is No Trail
If you have to go through the wilderness or heavy grass, it is better to buy the trail boots. These are the best for the longer trips as well as for carrying the heavy loads.
- For the Mountains
Grip, strength and high quality are what you need to get atop those mountains. However always make sure to break into such shoes before going up. You need to make the trip as comfortable as can be.
The shoes must be anti-slip, long lasting and also water resistant to provide the maximum protection and traction on the mountain.
The material the shoe/boot is made from greatly impacts the overall look as well as the quality of the shoe. It is often interrelated with the other important considerations you may be made before the purchase. Such include the total weight of the boot, the water resistance, and the breathability.
These hiking shoes are usually made from the following types of leather and other materials:
- Split-grain Leather: This one is mostly used in combination with the nylon and nylon mesh material and gives you great boots to beat the summer heat. These provide great internal ventilation for the feet to stay sweat-free all day long.
Cheaper than the other leather, however, these do not go great when immersed in water and are also prone to scratches.
- Full-grain Leather: This type is very long-lasting and does not get scratched or stains when exposed to water. The boots made from the full-grain leather are ideal for the longer trips, no matter how much weight you are carrying and also great on the uneven terrain.
However, these cannot beat the split grains in terms of breathability.
- Nubuck Leather: This type deeply resembles the suede material. It is resistant to water, scratches and very long lasting. The quality is really good and it gives you the flexibility to move your foot about with ease.
However, you will have to take the time to break into it prior to the trip.
- Synthetic: Many of the modern types are made from nylon and polyester. These are usually low cost, light and dry up rather quickly as compared to the other types.
However, it may start to deteriorate on the outside much sooner than the actual leather does.
- Waterproof Membrane: The shoes made from the waterproof membrane are designed to keep your feet dry and give them proper ventilation through the day. However, still, these are not as ventilated as the others. So, sweating may not be completely countered by these boots.
- Vegan: These are free from all sorts of animal hide/skin or other by-products.
- Insulation: Some of the shoes may have some sort of insulation material that helps keep the feet warm during the winters or on the ice cold glaciers.
The insulation material helps keep the toes from freezing so that you can stay on the same pace and make it through the coldest of the days during the hike.
Other important considerations when making the purchase include:
- The weather conditions and exposure to water.
- The terrain you are considering for the hike.
- The weight of the backpack you may be carrying.
- Extra support required such as, for around the ankles.
Should you go for the Shoes or Boots?
When it comes to choosing between the shoes and the boots, consider your comfort level first. If you have been in a habit of wearing boots for the longer hours, these can beat the winters, and keep the whole foot including the ankle well protected throughout.
Another element is the weight. The boots weigh a few ounces or a pound over the shoes. So again, your comfort is what matters most. Other things you can look into when deciding are the external conditions of the terrain, the miles you wish to travel and the overall strength of the foot are all major considerations to make before deciding.
While boots offer much protection to the ankle, and from the external conditions such as the water, mud, and snow, the shoes are often seen to be more convenient and comfortable by many of the hikers.
However, if you are considering the purchase of the shoes, then the fitting is most important. Unlike the boot, the shoes do not have a collar for support. They have to be the right fit in order to provide maximum traction to your feet.
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Moreover, the shoes for hiking are light in weight and comfortable to be worn with ease for hours.
Parts of the Hiking Boot
- The Midsoles
This part is responsible for giving you the cushioned support and to keep your foot from getting any shocks through the hike. It provides the comfort and keeps your foot under a strong grip as you make your way through the rocky terrain.
These midsoles may be made from the following materials:
- EVA: This is the light and cheaper material for supporting the front part of the foot.
- Polyurethane: A much stronger material, it is also better in terms of quality and is also used for making the strong mountain and backpacking boots.
- Interior of the Hiking Shoes
What does the shoe for hiking have on the inside for support? Since the feet come in direct contact with the interior of the shoe, it is a vital element to look into prior to the purchase.
- Plates:These are the inserts that are placed in the midst of the outsole and midsole of the shoe. If you are planning on a rough hike around the very rocky path, these will keep the feet protected from injuries and sharp stings.
- Shanks: These too are the inserts that make the midsole stiff for stronger grip while carrying heavy backpacks and weights. They may cover the entire midsole or half of it depending on the design.
- The Outsoles
The most common material used in the lower part or the outsole of the shoe is the rubber. At times it may be coupled with carbon to increase the stability and protection, especially on the sharp and rocky terrains.
The hard outsoles are really good in the mountains or areas where you need additional grip, however, away from the trail, it is not very comfortable.
- Lug Patterns: These add grip and help you make it through the toughest of terrains well supported. The lugs are actually the bumps on the outer sole that work against the accumulation of mud on the outsole and help you hike on the mountains with ease.
- Heel Brake: This is the heel of the shoe and the hiking shoes have a tough heel that keeps you from sliding off or slipping on the slippery and inclined slopes.
Tips and Tricks
- Consider waterproofing the shoes during or after the hike. It will help enhance their life.
- Use wax/silicon treatment to work the leather. This will help the leather get softer and the shoes to get stretched to provide you a comfortable hold.
- Use boot trees.
- Try to keep them away from water and rain. This may cause the leather to shrink, and if the shoe is not made from the high-quality, it could get damaged.
- Use stick-on type pads underneath the tongue of the shoe to enhance comfort.
- Cut off your toenails frequently.
- Make use of external sole pads or insoles.
Remember, there’s never a one type fits all type of shoe. You may even need more than a pair of the hiking shoes, depending on your trail, distance to cover and the weather. However, again you must stay within your budget and if you can afford to buy two good pairs, you may do so. But if not, there are always great options like the ones discussed above.
One shoe may not give you everything, but with a general idea of how you would want to use it, you can make a better decision.
For more details, go through this detailed blog.
What’s the Difference between Hiking and Other Shoes?
Hiking shoes are specially designed to aid you as you carry extra weight on your shoulders and climb up the steep. Other comfortable walking shoes, may be great for the leveled surface, however, if taken up on a rough hike, they may actually break.
Moreover, you will feel excessively tired as well. Whereas in the hiking shoes, the soles are stiff to give you an extra support ln the base. This way the shoes support the feet and minimize the fatigue. Moreover, if the climb is steep or rocky, then the extra grip you get with the hiking shoes keeps the feet from slipping and help you with the traction.
Many of the hiking shoes also provide protection from the extreme cold weather, and your feet stay warm, thanks to the additional membrane. Water resistance and breathability are also taken into consideration when designing these, unlike the common footwear.
Another thing the hiking shoes provide is the support to the ankle. Often when the terrain is rough, one may have a sprained ankle. But with these hiking shoes, the ankle is protected and often covered, so there are least chances of injuries and falls.
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What Type of Hiking Shoes Do You Get?
The hiking shoes are further divided into 4-5 categories based on their traction, support, and padding.Here are the most common types, as also discussed in our guide above:
Trail Running Shoes
Whether you are thinking of taking a hike on the dirt, path or uneven gravel, these are great. Although not entirely for the hikers, however, they serve the purpose, particularly for the shorter trails.
These also boost your speed and enable you to cover longer distances rather quickly. The soles are quite flexible for comfort and let the air get to your toes via the breathable membrane.
These are made for the hike. Light and simplistic in nature the hiking shoes give you quality and the ultimate support you need on the trail.
These are great if you are planning the longer hiking trips.
Then there are the Hiking boots. These are so known for covering and proving additional support to the ankle. These have rubber soles and are often heavy in weight. Ideal for carrying the heavier backpack on the uneven terrain.
The Mountaineering Boots are made for the toughest conditions. Especially for winters, as these have special membranes that keep the feet from getting cold.
Lastly, the Approach shoes are often like the trail shoes but are designed for climbing up the rocky and uneven terrain.
How Do You Choose Hiking Shoes?
Choosing the right hiking shoes is not an easy job. However, by keeping the above factors in mind, it is often much easier to decide the right pair. The best way is to actually try on the shoe if you can and see how it fits.
However, if you are considering buying online, then stick to the known or tried brands. This way you can be sure of the fit and quality.
Other factors to consider have also been discussed in our guide to help you find the right pair. For more details check out this article.
What Budget is required for Good Hiking shoes?
The hiking shoes can be bought at a minimal price of over $50 and can go up as high as $400. However, depending on your budget you can decide accordingly.
You may even buy two shoes for different purposes, such as the hiking boots for the winters and the normal trail runners for the shorter daytime trips.
Price is usually not a major determinant of the good quality hiking shoes. You have to look into the specs of each and match it with your requirements and the type of trail to get the right pair.
The hiking shoes are one of the most important components of the hiking gear. The wrong pair will not just make the whole hike uncomfortable but could also lead to blisters and injuries. You must consider the terrain, the type, material and the making of the shoe, the fit and your budget all in line before setting out for the purchase.
Remember a comfortable shoe leads to a comfortable journey. So go ahead and buy the right shoe for your hiking trip and enjoy the comfort, traction and ease all day long without getting unnecessarily tired at any time.
You will love the way they enhance your experience, every time you set out.