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Hiking outdoors is an excellent form of exercise. Whether you're planning your first outdoor hike or have been hiking for years, you need the right equipment. That goes without saying when it comes to choosing new hiking shoes. Comfort, mobility, lightweight, and ease of transport, are a few benefits of having the right shoes.

You'll feel like it's easy to move around, yet you have sufficient traction to keep you grounded. And, the best hiking shoes will keep your feet dry, no matter what the conditions. You know that you the importance of fitness and agility for an intensive hike. But, many overlook the importance of the right equipment.

Make your next hiking trip one you won't forget. The right shoes will make your life much more comfortable, and far more enjoyable when trekking the most challenging terrains.

Comparison Table

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Why is a Pair of Hiking Shoes Appropriate

For hikers debating between hiking shoes and boots, there are times when shoes are a better alternative. When carrying less than 30 pounds on a day hike, shoes are lighter and easier to move around. Since hikers don't have much weight to carry with them, they don't require the traction hiking boots afford. In such cases, hiking shoes are a superior alternative.

Types of Hiking Shoes Available

When buying new hiking shoes, hikers have more than one option available. Depending on where they're hiking, experience, and comfort, each hiker will choose a different alternative. These are a few options to consider.

Trail runners

These hiking shoes are similar to running shoes, with the main difference being an aggressive tread pattern. Heel breaks, a stiffer midsole, and an increase in support levels are also present in these shoes. The shoes are perfect for fast and light day hikes. They are lightweight, so allow hikers to mobilize quickly. Although stiffer than running shoes, the main drawback of these shoes is they aren't as stiff as other hikers.

Approach shoes

These shoes are for rock climbing walls and rock climbing. It is also an excellent option for all around day hikes. A sticky rubber outsole and stiff midsole provide hikers the support they need on rugged trails. A secure fit is possible with lacing which stretches down to the lower portion of the shoes. Approach shoes typically don't do well in wet or muddy conditions. Therefore, the hiking shoes are best for dry, light, day hikes.

Light hikers

The light hiker provides more support and traction than trail runners. A stiff outer sole and durable exterior make these shoes great for longer day hikes. The multi-directional lugs are perfect for stepping in wet or muddy grounds, as the shoes afford hikers great traction.

How to Choose Hiking Shoes

When choosing hiking shoes, there are many options and brands. Hikers need something with excellent traction, lightweight exterior, and excellent control. These are a few aspects to consider when selecting hiking shoes.

Proper fit

The proper fit and comfort are of high importance when buying hiking shoes. Hikers should try on the shoes with the hiking socks they'll be wearing the days of their hikes. If hikers add a different insole, they should also wear it when trying the shoes on. It's also important to bear in mind that some shoes take time to break in.

Insole, midsole, and outsole

The proper insole, midsole, and outsole can significantly enhance the quality of hiking shoes. Rubber outsoles are available at different density levels. A softer rubber, similar to what's on approach shoes, provide greater grip on surfaces. Some shoes feature grips or lugs; this helps dig into surfaces easily. Some shoes also have a flat "climbing zone" ideal for technical climbers.

Midsoles are either EVA or PU materials. EVA is soft and provides excellent cushioning and little time to break in. They are also available in different density levels. A PU midsole lasts longer and offers greater support for heavier loads. They have less cushioning and require more break-in time.

The insole is an EVA material. It helps provide additional arch support and enhance comfort. Many hikers choose to buy a separate insole, for more support and stability when hiking.


Gore-Tex or eVent, are two of the main waterproofing protections available for hiking shoes and outdoor wear. Microscopic holes allow the membranes to breathe while allowing water to evaporate from the shoes. The feet feel cooler and also remain dry at all times. The shoes also last longer than those without a waterproof finish.

Our Hiking Shoe Review Process

We review several variables when rating hiking shoes. The material finish, quality, and comfort are some critical aspects. In the process, we also compare shoes which are breathable and feature waterproofing exteriors. Additionally, we incorporate reviews written by owners of these shoes and price ranges. Doing this allows customers to compare hiking shoes in their price range when narrowing down the options.

Our Top Rated Hiking Shoes

There are several great hiking shoes for consumers to select. These are a few of the best available, regardless of budget or hiking abilities.

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The hiking shoes are light and proven to withstand the toughest terrains for day hiking. The shoes are perfect for smaller cliffs and wet surfaces. They feature a textile and leather upper material, for excellent breathability. They keep the feet cool and comfortable, in all hiking conditions.

A mesh-lining, EVA midsole, and the 11.6-ounce weight allow hikers to mobilize quickly. The sidewall lugs provide more traction on wet grounds or muddy terrains than shoes without these features. Some hikers claim the hiking shoes run smaller than average shoes. Hikers should, therefore, purchase half to one size larger. That's especially true if adding an insole or wearing thick hiking socks.

These hiking shoes are between one hundred dollars to one hundred twenty. 

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These hiking shoes have an all synthetic upper finish for optimal levels of breathability. The Vibram outsoles provide excellent grip, for the most challenging terrains.

The shoes are perfect for rugged terrain and provide excellent traction for wet and muddy trail hikes. They also feature a MEMlex midsole, affording hikers greater control and comfort. Some hikers claim the sticky outsole is tricky to work with on descents. It requires a little bit of a learning curve, especially for newer/beginner hikers.

These hiking shoes are one hundred thirty dollars to one hundred fifty. 

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The hiking shoes feature lightweight running shoe technologies, helping eliminate weight and bulk. This feature allows hikers to mobilize quickly and work up and downhill efficiently in these shoes. The waterproof exterior is highly breathable, keeping hikers comfortable, in all weather conditions.

The shoes are relatively light at approximately two pounds. A single pull lace system helps stabilize the shoe and ankle height protection, prevents ankle injuries. A contra grip rubber outsole improves traction, and prevents sliding/skidding, on smooth or sandy surfaces. The primary complaint is the weight of the shoes. Although light for most, the shoes weigh two pounds (one pound each shoe). This weight is heavier than many newer models, with lightweight technologies today.

The price of these shoes is one hundred fifty dollars to one hundred seventy five. The ratings on REI are 4.9 out of 5-stars.

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The approach shoes are perfect for technical hiking and challenging terrains. The low-cut design features a Gore-Tex outsole. This outsole provides high levels of traction, tread depth, and keeps hikers on solid grounding. The long interior comfort lining, also ensures high performance and comfort, for full day hikes.

The upper portion of the shoe features an Exa shell of a 3D cage. At about 15.2 ounces for the pair, the shoes are very light. It allows hikers to mobilize quickly and efficiently, on the toughest terrains. These hiking shoes are extremely high in price. Especially with such steep competition in the industry. And, with many top manufacturers producing approach shoes, some customers aren't willing to pay the price.

These shoes cost between one hundred sixty dollars to one hundred seventy five. 

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The nubuck and leather suede upper finish of these hiking shoes is breathable and waterproof. The M Select Grip outsole helps hikers maintain balance and traction, on robust climbing grounds.

The removable EVA footbed has an M odor treatment. This feature helps to prevent odors in wet hiking conditions. The bellows tongue design also helps keep debris out of the shoes. An air cushion heel also absorbs shock, to help minimize pain/discomfort on rough or rocky terrains. Some reviews indicate the lacing system isn't the best available for hiking shoes. Hikers state that the laces don't remain in place, which gets in the way when moving at a fast pace.

The shoes cost about seventy five dollars to one hundred fifty on average. 

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A synthetic rubber sole and synthetic upper material, keep the shoes dry and breathable in all conditions. The lace-up system is waterproof and molding over the toe-cap is a rubber material. It also helps prevent slipping or loss of traction on wet surfaces.

The B-fit anatomical design conforms to the hiker's feet. This feature also ensures high levels of comfort and minimal movement. Therefore,  hikers won't injure their feet/ankles, on longer hikes. Apart from the high price being a complaint, hikers claim the shoes get hot. It also makes them difficult to wear on longer hikes or warmer hiking days.

The average cost of the hiking shoes is one hundred thirty dollars to one hundred sixty. 

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The mesh, 3D printing exterior, and Vibram outsole provide hikers a great deal of stability and traction on trails. Merrell air cushion heel helps minimize the impact on landings.

The EVA midsole provides hikers great balance and comfort, for longer day hikes. The shoes weigh about 15 ounces each, coming in at just under two pounds in total. The weight is also reasonably light in, so they won't drag hikers down. In some reviews, hikers indicate the arch support is too far back in the shoe. This design causes some instability, and discomfort for many individuals.

The average price of these shoes is fifty five bucks to seventy five.

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As a leader in outdoor gear, hikers can rely on the quality and comfort of North Face hiking shoes. The rubber outsole features a 5-inch high arch, providing greater traction and stability than flat shoes.

The subtle pronation correction feature, provides hikers additional grounding and balance, especially coming downhill. The thick rubber outsole also offers sufficient grip, on the most slippery and wet conditions. Some reviewers indicate the quality of the outsole tends to "peel" apart after a few months use. The shoe finishes indicate to consumers that some issues with quality/durability exist.

Average prices for these hiking shoes is one hundred fifteen dollars to two hundred. 

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The mesh and leather upper exterior are waterproof and highly breathable. An Omni-tech waterproofing exterior keeps feet dry, and the hiking shoes intact, for several outdoor hikes.

The Techlite EVA midsole is comfortable and provides hikers a great deal of support on uneven grounds. The thick rubber outsole also protects hikers in wet or rainy conditions, from falling and slipping. One issue with the hiking shoes is the interior lining and insole. For longer hikes, some hikers prefer more cushioning. If so, adding an insole to the hiking shoes will improve levels of comfort hikers experience.

The average price of the shoes runs between sixty five dollars to one hundred. 

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The shoe features a cotton canvas exterior, so it is breathable in the warmest conditions. A Trax high friction outsole prevents slipping and sliding on smooth or sandy grounds.

The shoe features a smooth footbed and midsole. This design also helps keep the feet in place to prevent injuries, and sufficient cushioning for most hikers. Some owners indicate the shoes are great for outdoor conditions with high levels of traction/stability. They are slippery when worn indoors, however. And, the cotton canvas exterior, isn't the best material for waterproofing. So, the shoes aren't perfect for wet or muddy hikes.

The hiking shoes cost between seventy dollars to one hundred. 

Comparison Table





Our Top Choice

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  • Gore-Tex outsole
  • long interior comfort lining
  • very light

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Amazon Best Seller

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  • 3D printing exterior
  • Vibram outsole
  • Merrell air cushion heel
  • EVA midsole

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Designers' Choice

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  • synthetic rubber sole
  • lace-up system is waterproof
  • B-fit anatomical design

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Our Verdict

There are several excellent hiking shoes available, for casual hikers and those with years of experience below their feet. For hikers on a budget, the Merrell Moab Edge is a great shoe. They are affordable and sold by a leader in outdoor gear and equipment. The air cushion increases comfort, and M Grip outsole ensures hikers won't slip in wet conditions. The waterproofing exterior and finishes, and quality lacing system, ensure hikers are comfortable, even on long hiking treks.

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For hikers who want the best shoe, regardless of price, Salewa Wildfire is a great option to consider. It is perfect for technical terrain and outdoor hiking trails. It features a waterproofing upper, and is lightweight, allowing hikers to mobilize quickly. The Gore-Tex outsole also gives hikers full range and control, on all wet or muddy surfaces. With the ability to tread the toughest terrains, and grip any surface, hikers are in control with these shoes.

Last update on 2021-06-30 at 09:21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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