Ranking The 10 Best Hiking Shoes of 2021

Matt Lewis
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First, let’s discuss whether or not you actually need a pair of hiking shoes.

Unless you’re an experienced hiker and have a trail or mountainside ready to explore, I’d recommend taking a pass on a pair of hiking boots at first.

Despite what you might have heard, hiking shoes are not adequately protective to wear all day every day. Nor are they uniquely distinguished from normal active shoes, like cross trainers or running shoes.

For the most part, cross-trainers and running shoes are more than adequate for hikes that are a bit more challenging, but not too off-trail. Technically, trail running shoes should be the strongest and sturdiest shoes you wear, and they should give your ankles and toes plenty of room to move inside.

For example, the Merrell Agility Peak Flex Hiking Shoe is not the best hiking shoe, but more than capable for day hikes on the trail.

The Salomon S-Lab X Alp Enduro is also a decent option for day hikes, as long as you can handle the steep incline. If you hike in the snow, keep in mind that the more snow you run into (for example, hikes to the peak of a mountain or) will make an impact on your shoes.

NameCategoryProduct
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking ShoeBest OverallMerrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
The North Face Ultra 109 GTXBudget PickThe North Face Ultra 109 GTX
La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking ShoeUpgrade PickLa Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoe

1. Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

Our rating: 9 / 10

Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

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Pros:

  • Made for people looking for breathability
  • Built for comfortable fit
  • Provide superior traction
  • Look great too

Cons:

  • Sizing runs a bit small
  • Could use more protection in the toe and ankle areas

If you’re looking for hiking shoes that give you a breathable, comfortable fit, then Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking shoe is for you. This pair is made from fine mesh and synthetic leather with a mesh lining to keep your feet feeling fresh.

These shoes are also made with durable and lightweight nylon rip-stop material for the sole which enhances traction and resists wear. Merrell has also used a dual foot-frame and blown rubber pods in the toe area for comfort.

This pair of shoes has molded nylon arch shank for support. They feature an EVA midsole to add cushioning to your feet and are molded with an anti-odor technology to keep the foot area feeling fresh. There’s also a traction-enhanced Vibram sole which gives you great traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

2. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

Our rating: 9 / 10

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

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Pros:

  • Exceptional Traction
  • Outsoles provide excellent ramping to prevent slipping
  • Perfect for moderate and harsh hikes
  • Good for muddy terrain
  • Breathable yet very durable mesh
  • Lace-up

Cons:

  • The lacing system can be a little difficult at first, especially for those with small hands
  • Heel slippage can occur on dirt surfaces
  • Sizing seems to be a little inconsistent between reviews
  • Only for men

Hiking shoes are chosen by the type of hike and weather. You don’t want to use the same pair for long wandering days at the beach as you would for snow-covered slopes.

These shoes fall into the medium hiking shoes like most of the Merrells. If you’re looking to terrify yourself up a mountain, then these wont be for you. But if you are looking for a shoe that will be comfortable on long hikes then this is the shoe for you.

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX is a Gore-Tex, water resistant hiking shoe. They are perfect for moderate hikes and terrains. These shoes also feature a GORE-TEX waterproof membrane for keeping water out. (And sweat in.)

3. La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10

La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoe

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Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Very comfortable
  • High-quality materials, stitching and construction
  • Insane traction

Cons:

  • Narrower fit
  • Expensive

The La Sportiva Spire Hiking shoe is a terrific option for the beginning or experienced hiker. Made from mostly leather the boost the durability of the build. These shoes are designed with light hikers in mind.

Comfort is a huge aspect of this shoe. A comfort rating is a 5/5! Insulation is not a major concern they are not the warmest boots. If you need something to deal with colder weather this is not the shoe for you.

Traction is out of this world. If you are planning on hiking on steep terrain you should strongly consider these boots. They are designed with a multi-purpose sole that blends stiffness and flexibility to keep your foot stable and light enough to allow you to react to whatever surface you are stepping on.

4. ALTRA Men's Lone Peak 4 Low RSM Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10

ALTRA Men's Lone Peak 4 Low RSM Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Adequately cushioned
  • Comes in width options
  • Minimal break-in period
  • Grip is good, even on wet surfaces
  • Minimal amount of arch support
  • Light weight

These shoes have a rock-plate to protect the bottom of the shoe, as well as a durable upper with mesh reinforcement. The sole of the shoe is designed for grip in almost any situation, giving you added stability while on mountain trails or in the city.

The best feature of this shoe is the amount of cushioning it contains in a lightweight package. Whether you’re walking down the street or on a trail, you’re sure to have excellent support while experiencing minimal foot fatigue.

The shoe has minimal arch support which is a great feature for some but may be uncomfortable for others.

5. Vasque Men's Breeze III Low GTX Waterproof Hiking Boot

Our rating: 7 / 10

Vasque Men's Breeze III Low GTX Waterproof Hiking Boot

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The Men’s Breeze III Low GTX Waterproof Hiking Boot is one of the highest rated males shoes for anyone who loves heading into the great outdoors. They are sporty, durable, supportive yet flexible.

The Breeze III boasts a lot of the features that you would expect from a quality hiking boot. It is made out of a fine leather upper, with a gtx lining and vents that will help you keep your feet cool on summer hikes.

However, the Breeze III is also equipped with a lot of features that you wouldn’t expect from a hiking boot. It has a padded collar that gives your ankle the best possible support out there, and an antimicrobial footbed that keeps away bad odors.

6. Columbia Men’s Redmond Waterproof Low Hiking Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10

Columbia Men’s Redmond Waterproof Low Hiking Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great traction on any kind of terrain
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent wet weather protection
  • Durable, high-quality workmanship
  • Good arch support
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Cons:

  • Some present sizing issues
  • Not breathable enough during intense exercise
  • Some report an occasional soreness around the ankles

This is a Columbia Waterproof shoe that features a rubber sole which is designed to offer great traction and support. The sole features AltiTrac technologies which are excellent for both wet and dry conditions.

The shoe also has PowerTrac technologies which provide superior traction and stability when on the rocks and other slippery surfaces.

The shoe’s midsole has good arch support, meaning you can wear these shoes for long periods of time without getting too much foot fatigue. The padded tongue and collar add to the overall comfort of the shoe.

7. Salomon X Ultra 3 GORE-TEX Men's Hiking Shoes

Our rating: 6 / 10

Salomon X Ultra 3 GORE-TEX Men's Hiking Shoes

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Pros:

  • Salomon's proprietary 3D Advanced Chassis provides the optimum blend of comfort and stability, while a combination-traction outsole and multidirectional lugs increase traction
  • Strong, abrasion-resistant Fast Webbing toe and lateral panels, with Quicklace system
  • GORE-TEX® technology and the adjustable Air-Mesh tongue help keep feet dry in any weather
  • EVA midsole and Phylite midsole absorbs shocks that can cause foot, leg, and back fatigue
  • EVA footbeds with high-rebound responsive foam helps increase comfort while reducing pressure points
  • This shoe is waterproof and offers good grip on terrain that varies from dry to wet

This underrated running shoe is lightweight and offers tremendous value for most hikers. It feels good on your feet and provides adequate protection during your trip.

The hard-rubber toe cap provides extra protection on the trail. You also get underfoot stability and comfort with this running shoe thanks to additional support and cushioning in the midsole.

8. KEEN Men's Targhee II Hiking Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10

KEEN Men's Targhee II Hiking Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great ankle protection
  • Won’t smudge or fade
  • Cranks don’t get caught in the treads
  • Has no problem with wet weather
  • Decent arch support
  • Textile/mesh upper is comfortable and breathable
  • Laces with locking eyelets

Cons:

  • Runs narrow
  • Some complaints about the inside breaking down quickly

So far this year there have been a lot of good hiking shoes, but this one took the cake.

The rubber heel is designed to grip well on steep hills, but testers have noticed that they lack traction on flat ground due to their ripple-like traction pattern.

They make your foot feel almost like it’s sticking to the ground and they are super comfortable. Allow your foot to move the way it’s supposed to, while giving a comfortable ride.

9. Oboz Men's Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe

Our rating: 5 / 10

Oboz Men's Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe

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Pros:

  • Very lightweight
  • Sturdy yet comfortable anti-slip outsole
  • Aggressive outsole well-suited for hiking, running etc.
  • Breathable upper and also reasonably priced

Replacing the aging Sawtooth hiking shoes, this could be your best choice. It is a breathable and lightweight 3-Point system approach.

The 3-Point system provides a stable, comfortable and sturdy hiker which is made with a mesh/mesh upper and a flexible and breathable construction. The outsole of this Oboz hiking shoe consists of an aggressive traction pattern which is suitable for hiking, running and other outdoor sports.

It is a great product to wear during your day to day outdoor activities. The upper is made out of water-resistant material. The shoe is also very lightweight weighing at 10.6 ounces (298g). The material breathes well and doesn’t cause any blisters.

10. adidas Men's Terrex Fast R GTX Black/Black/White Athletic Shoe

Our rating: 5 / 10

adidas Men's Terrex Fast R GTX Black/Black/White Athletic Shoe

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Pros:

  • The shoe is made from a durable synthetic materials
  • The synthetic design makes it easy to clean and maintain
  • The structured style is supportive
  • Vibram rubber outsoles provide great traction for hiking

Cons:

  • Average comfort
  • Not breathable enough for a hot summer day

If you’re in need of an excellent pair of hiking shoes, but don’t want to break the bank, then take a look at the Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX. You can be sure that they will prove to be one of the best hiking shoes out there with solid construction, style, and comfort.

The shoe is made from a mixture of synthetic materials and mesh. Both have their benefits. The mesh allows the shoe to breathe during extremely hot weather. The synthetic materials make it easy to clean the shoe. This is beneficial for those who are on the trail often.

The upper of the shoe is lined with synthetic and mesh. The lining of the upper keeps your foot cool and dry. The tongue of the shoe is also lined with mesh.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the most comfortable hiking shoes?

As mentioned before, you need shoes that are waterproof, breathable and durable. With a good pair of hiking shoes, you need not worry about your feet while you are walking around the great outdoors.

We have outlined a review of the top 10 best hiking shoes in this guide. These shoes have the ability to provide physical stable and comfort equal to the level of performance required. Each includes a unique and distinctive feature that gives them their place in our list.

The thing about hiking is that you need to keep your feet protected and safe from injuries. You also have to have an excellent grip on the trails that you will be walking on.

The items that made it to the top are great choices because they have all of these qualities and more. A good pair of hiking ultra-light shoes offers the perfect combo of specific features that make for the ultimate hiking experience.

Which is better Merrell or Salomon?

How do I choose the best hiking shoes?

Choosing the best hiking shoes might seem like a real challenge. As a matter of fact, a good pair of hiking shoes will be your best friends when going on a hike or trekking to high elevations. Not only are the shoes waterproof and protect your feet against the elements, they also provide your sole with the maximal grip, which is extremely important if you have to step on slippery surfaces.

Before choosing the best hiking shoes for your needs, below are a few factors to keep in mind.

What is better for hiking shoes or boots?

We avoid the popular notion that hiking shoes are better than boots for hiking. This notion is probably the reason why so many people push themselves into buying hiking boots instead of hiking shoes, and never truly experience the thrill of hiking.

Neither hiking shoes or hiking boots are better or worse. Each type offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and each type of shoe is fitted for certain types of hiking. Therefore, it has always been and still remains an irrefutable fact that the best shoe for hiking is the shoe that matches your hiking needs.

Now, we talk about two big things when it comes to hiking shoes. The first is durability and the second is protection. When you are hiking, you want rugged, durable shoes that can protect you from the rough trail textures. Some shoes offer both but most tend to lean more on one side. You just have to keep this in mind and find a shoe that offers what you want.

How do I choose the best hiking shoes?

With endless combinations of hiking boots and shoes on the market, selecting the best hiking shoes for you can be a daunting task. You first need to ask yourself an important question, what is your purpose of hiking?

Do you simply want to go for leisurely walks or short hikes, or do you wish to cover long distances and gain access to rugged conditions? The two questions we will explore are these:

  • What kind of terrain and surfaces do you plan on hiking on?
  • What kinds of sporting activities do you plan on doing?

To answer the first question, what kind of hiking shoe do you need? Most obviously the shoe must have good traction and be waterproof. You may opt for a shoe with an ankle support, or one that is light and breathable. Let’s say you plan on hiking on rocky terrain and even snow, then you will need a shoe that has a stiffer sole and a higher ankle support.

Conclusion

In a day and age where everyone has to make constant and drastic adjustments to their daily lifestyles, it becomes much more pressing to make sure that you have the right gear. One of the areas where it’s most important to consider investing in quality is in your hiking footwear. An ill-fitting pair of shoes can be the difference between a sad walk and a pleasant hike. If you’re looking to increase your odds of choosing the best pair of shoes for your next adventure, be sure to use this guide as your go-to resource.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking ShoeBest OverallMerrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
The North Face Ultra 109 GTXBudget PickThe North Face Ultra 109 GTX
La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking ShoeUpgrade PickLa Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoe