There are two things you need to bring along with you on a hike, no matter if it’s a three-hour day trip, a weeklong trek, or a weekend climb: water and a good pair of hiking boots.
Finding the perfect pair that will keep you supported, blister-free, and comfortable can get a bit tricky for several reasons. First, the perfect boots for one hike may be a poor choice for another, as terrain, season, gear weight, and distance all must be factored in as you choose your boots. For ice, loose rocks, steep scrambles, and the like, you need deep, aggressive treading that will let you kick in and hold on, e.g, whereas for a more casual trail hike, less pronounced lugs (the little stick-out things on the soles) and treading will help keep you moving faster and freer. So too do rougher terrain and longer technical hikes call for a higher collar that offers better ankle support while the casual hike may merit a lower cut boot that again allows for easier, faster motion, and that will likely weigh less, too.
Second—beyond the tech specs of a boot, like materials, tread pattern, weight, rise, and so on—you’ll need to consider your budget. And third, there are simply so many brands and styles of hiking boot out there, it’s hard to know which are worth considering.
That’s why we checked in with the experts and narrowed it down to just five boots here today. Are there other great hiking boots out there? Sure, lots. But will one of these work for you given your activities and budget and fitness level and such? Yes.
To get some well-informed input, we spoke first to Les Stroud, known far and wide as Survivorman thanks to his long-running hit show of the same name and a noted outdoorsman and survival expert. “I believe very much in matching your boot with the activity—otherwise you really run the risk of blisters and snapped ankles. Generally, I want strong ankle support, waterproofness up to my ankles, and a tough soul for rocks,” Stroud said.
Next we talked to Veronica Dzul-Garcia, one of the Gearheads from the trusted outdoor outfit Backcountry. “You just have to ask yourself a few questions, like what type of hike am I doing?” Dzul-Garcia said. “Am I headed for easy trails, or to the backcountry, off trail, where the terrain gets crazy? And how long will my hike be, how much gear will I be carrying?”
These pointers and questions have helped inform our choices, as have, of course, direct recommendations from those deeply in-the-know.
Best for Multi-Day Hiking
Asolo TPS 520 GV EVO Hiking Boot
These are the hiking boots Survivorman Les Stroud grabbed from his closet during a recent interview with Daily Beast, his go-to boots for multi-day, off-the-grid trekking in all sorts of terrain. The one-piece, full grain leather upper is water-resistant enough to keep your feet dry in a downpour (or stream) while the thick dual-density midsole is supportive enough for comfort on rocks and roots and more. The outsole of these boots is stiff and sturdy, ready to absorb countless impacts, and they can easily be fitted with crampons (for traction in snow and ice) if needed. These are pricey boots, but they will last for years.
Best for Cold Weather Hiking
Columbia Bugaboot III Boot
If you’re going to be hiking in winter, especially in conditions where snow is pretty much guaranteed, then these are great boots to consider. They have a high shaft – over seven inches – which helps keep snow out and gives plenty of space for cinching snow pants to form a barrier keeping water out and warmth in, and that provides great ankle protection. 200 grams of insulation will keep your feet good and warm, while a cushioned midsole allows for multi-hour comfort. Boots like these “are heavier, so you have to factor that in, as you can tire out faster with heavier boots,” says Dzul-Garcia. For long winter treks, err on the side of warmth and support and accept the extra weight, balancing it by a slower, steady pace.
Salewa Raven 3 Gore-Tex Boot
These are the go-to boots for Gearhead Dzul-Garcia when she is headed far afield. “The Salewa Ravens are a heavy, very technical boot. These are durable, rugged boots that really belong in the backcountry,” she says. And even a quick look will have you understanding why. The deep, aggressive lugs on the sole of these boots will keep your foot glued to the trail, hillside, snowfield, or muddy meadows, while the tall shaft will snugly embrace your ankles and keep them safe and centered even on loose ground. If you are headed deep into the canyons, getting into serious mountaineering, or likely to encounter varied landscapes on a multi-day adventure, these pricey boots are worth the price.
Northside Rockford Mid Leather Hiking Boot
You will be hard-pressed to find a hiking boot that costs less than these that will be of any decent quality. Dzul-Garcia says: “There’s always budget to think about. I’ve paid $300 and more for boots before, [because] you have to trust them. If you’re looking at a boot that costs much below $85 or $100, frankly you’re probably looking at a pretty chintzy boot.” While not the most technical hiking boot ever sold, these are the perfect boots for the casual hiker not likely to be facing any technical challenges (rocky ascents, glacier crossings, ice climbing, etc..). Reliably waterproof with a mid-rise for ankle support, these boots offer a good range of motion, and with classic styling, the Rockfords are an ideal entry-level boot.
Salomon Predict Hike Mid Gore-Tex Boot
“Salomon has their line of running shoes, so they have really honed in on the cushioning and making a comfortable boot,” says Dzul-Garcia. “If you’re looking for a lighter, faster, flexible boot, then Solomon is a brand to look at.” These boots are perfect for the fast-moving hiker, even for a quasi-trail running experience, but one where you’ll have that pack on your back, as there is enough substance under the heel to absorb that weight. Each boot weighs 376 grams or 13.2 grams, well under a pound That’s a light boot — for reference the Salewa Ravens are almost double the weight — and the weight, along with the flexibility of the sole, allows for plenty of speed, while the deep, broadly-spaced lugs will stay grippy on varied terrain.
Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find apparel deals from L.L.Bean, Lands’ End, Gap, and more. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.