- The pair of hiking boots you wear has a huge impact on how comfortable and enjoyable a hike can be.
- The best offer a long-lasting and comfortable fit, are stable across varied terrain, and can be broken in quickly.
- Our top pick, the Asolo TPS 520 GV, is a water-resistant boot that’s supportive and highly comfortable.
Choosing the right hiking boot means first considering the environment in which you’ll primarily use them. Whether you’re keen on days-long backpacking trips or prefer a multi-mile afternoon day hike, the right hiking boots do plenty to make sure you’re comfortable and stable throughout.
But there isn’t just a one-size-fits-all-style of hiking boot perfect for all weather conditions, trail types, or hikes – rather, the variations in boot type are many.
With decades of hiking under my belt, I’ve worn every kind of boot imaginable. This also means I’ve made every type of mistake in picking out a boot, too. Be it a cheaply made pair that fell apart before the end of a backpacking trip, a boot that never quite broke in enough to be comfortable, or some that claimed to be waterproof but were far from it, I’ve seen it all.
But you don’t need to trudge through the same difficulties I have in searching for the perfect boot. Below, you’ll find six of the hiking boots that I turn to time and again when hitting the trail, no matter if I’m out for a quick two- to three-mile trek or a longer multi-day excursion.
Here are the best men’s hiking boots:
- Best hiking boots overall: Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots
- Best versatile hiking boots: Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots
- Best budget hiking boots: Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boots
- Best hiking shoe: Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX
- Best classic hiking boots: Danner Mountain Pass Hiking Boots
- Best hiking boots for winter: Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme Hiking Boots
The Asolo TPS 520 GV hiking boots are comfortable the first time you slip them on, no break-in period required, and they hold up even after thousands of miles of trekking in all conditions.
Pros: Instant comfort without break-in wearing, stellar water-resistance, great ankle and arch support, wicks moisture away from foot, easy and secure lacing system
Cons: Heavier and bulkier than many other hiking boot options, rather expensive
If you’re a committed hiker, camper, or mountaineer, you know that at the end of the day, your hiking boots are your most important pieces of gear, so you should be ready to pay a decent chunk for them.
You could leave your tent, pack, sleeping pad, stove, and all the rest of it behind, but you need a solid pair of boots on your feet if you want to trek your way back out of the wilderness safely. If you want hiking boots that will be comfortable the first time you lace them up and that stay that way after tens of thousands of steps, slip your feet into the Asolo TPS 520 GVs.
With a rugged full-grain leather exterior and a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex interior, the TPS 520s are ready for the elements, whether those elements include rain, rock, snow, mud, and more.
The solid Vibram sole is treaded for ideal grip in a myriad of conditions and keeps your foot supported whether you’re scrambling through a boulder field, kicking steps into a snowpack with crampons attached, or just strolling through a grassy field. The boots’ sturdy uppers protect your ankles against injury even when you roll a foot over a loose rock or catch a toe on a pesky root.
I recommend them because even after trying out six or seven other brands over the past fifteen years, I always choose my Asolos for any serious hike. They’ve carried me up and down Mt. Whitney, Mt. Rainier, the Grand Teton, and through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia, just to name a few of their many outings.
The best versatile
If you need one pair of hiking boots that will perform adroitly in the winter snow, the springtime mud, the summer’s heat, or the frost of fall, then you should slip on a pair of versatile Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots.
Pros: Versatile enough for use in many conditions, lightweight with flexible sole, breathable materials keep feet cool
Cons: Thin underfoot padding leads to foot fatigue, tread pattern not ideal for some conditions
No one hiking boot is ever going to be ideal for use in all types of conditions. But, if you need to find the best possible compromise boot, whether for budgetary concerns or because you need to travel through various types of weather and terrain in a single expedition, the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boots are a fine choice.
The exterior of the boots features a blend of leather and textile, with Gore-Tex waterproofing underlying both materials. The six-inch shaft rises more than high enough to protect an ankle against a roll, while the thick rubber toecap protects your toes against a falling rock or a hard stub against a stone, log, step, or anything else.
Now here are the compromises: The tread pattern isn’t aggressive, as it’s more akin to a trail shoe than a rugged boot suitable for the loose scree of a mountain pass. And although the exterior is water-resistant, it will eventually soak through if you stand in puddles or streams.
They might not be as warm as some hikers need, but they’re suitable for all seasons when paired with the right socks and they even let your foot breathe and stay cool when you wear thinner socks.
The best budget
These Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boots might cost half as much as many other options, but they’re fine boots at a fantastic price.
Pros: Very affordable option, air-cushioned heel reduces impact effects, soles offer reliable grip
Cons: Limited water resistance, soles wear out rather quickly
For the outdoor enthusiast who goes for day hikes, weekend camping trips, or the occasional multi-day trek but who doesn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of hiking boots, the Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid hiking boots are a great choice. These boots are reasonably lightweight, comfortable, and supportive, and have a tread pattern, water resistance, and breathability that make them suitable for use in most moderate conditions.
Are these the right boots to wear as you trek up and over the glaciers of Mt. Rainier? No, they’re not. Having done that, I can speak with confidence. But are they a fine option for traversing miles and miles of graded trail or for wearing as you blaze your own path through a pine forest or rolling meadow? Absolutely.
The Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilators feature a shock-absorbing air cushion under the heel and a flexible sole with no lugs under the arch. Those elements mean you could wear these boots for trail running if you really wanted, though they are a bit heavy for a long jaunt at speed.
While the Moab Ventilator boot is excellent at wicking moisture away from your foot to keep you dry, it’s not all that water-resistant, so in heavy rains or the event you step in a stream, your foot is going to get wet.
The best hiking shoe
Vasque’s Breeze LT Low GTX is waterproof, has excellent traction, and features a lightweight yet durable design that makes it great for short shoulder season and summer hikes.
Pros: Waterproof, Vibram outsole provides plenty of traction across varied terrain, lightweight design reduces fatigue, breathable upper
Cons: Doesn’t provide as much ankle support as a higher cut boot
If you’re the kind of hiker who enjoys getting out for a few miles at a time, a hiking shoe is a far better option for your feet than a full-on boot — and Vasque’s Breeze LT Low GTX is our favorite we’re currently wearing. Lightweight and breathable yet waterproof and rugged, this shoe is great for short day hikes, no matter if you’re heading out in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, or trekking during the summer.
The shoe features a Vibram outsole that gives it premium traction across a variety of terrain types — dry, wet, slick, it’s able to perform through it all. And with a waterproof design, you won’t have to worry about getting your socks wet (unless you fully submerge your foot). This makes it great for spring hikes or for any summer outings with shallow stream crossings.
One of the Breeze’s best features is just how comfortable it is. Vasque prides itself on designing hiking boots that need very little (to no) break-in time, and these hiking shoes fit that intention incredibly well. Of course, hiking shoes don’t require as much break-in time as a larger boot but it was still nice to not have to worry about developing hot spots or going through an uncomfortable hike when I first put these on.
The best classic
Danner’s hiking boots are some of the most stylish boots you can buy and they’re extremely well made.
Pros: Classic, timeless design, real leather construction, well made, can be resoled, fun collaborations with other brands
Cons: May not be perfectly waterproof, which won’t serve in a torrent or muddy terrain
Danner has been making some of the most popular boots for outdoor enthusiasts for nearly a century. If you’re looking for a pair of hiking boots that are somewhat less obtuse than the busy, flashy, high-tech boots that are so terribly a la mode these days, these are the boots for you.
Back in 1932, Charles Danner founded Danner Shoe Mfg. Company in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where he sold his handcrafted work boots for four dollars a pair to the local loggers. He learned that, out west, loggers were paying upwards of $10 for a pair of calked logging boots — a small fortune back then — and moved the family and business out to Oregon to take full advantage of a lacking market.
Danner has come up with a lot of boots since those days, and the most popular of all has been the Danner Light Boots, which came out thanks to the then-new invention of Gore-Tex.
Despite rugged soles, Gore-Tex lining, and heavy-duty leather, Danner hasn’t gone without its fair share of critics. Several esteemed publications have claimed that in the process of testing Danner boots, they found that the leather uppers and the seams at the miss let some water in. While I haven’t personally experienced any seepage as of yet, one reporter at Insider Picks did notice the Danner Lights absorbing some water.
But, before you dismiss Danner boots entirely, consider this: These are still extremely sturdy, well-constructed boots using high-quality, full-grain leather. The soles are nearly indestructible, and if you do manage to damage them, they’re built to be replaced.
The Danner Mountain Passes are a middle-of-the-road boot. They’re not the most rugged, but they also don’t feel like cinder blocks on your feet. The single-piece, full-grain uppers on this model will keep you good and dry unless you’re trudging through absolute muck (in which case, just grab your wellies).
All in all, this is not your built-for-hell boot to take trudging through the mud or a mountain stream. If you want that kind of boot from Danner, rest assured that they make it. This, on the other hand, is more along the lines of a fair-weather hiking or hunting boot, though it’s wonderfully suited for relatively dry terrain.
Hiking boots are always going to come with tradeoffs, and like many other things in this life, you’ll really need about three or four of them to handle every kind of outing. If you find yourself in an urban setting more often than, say, trudging through a cranberry bog or a low country swamp, these stylish boots will keep you warm, dry, and of course, styling. — Owen Burke
The best for winter
Unless you plunge them into water that’s deeper than their rise, the Columbia Daska Pass III Titanium Outdry Extreme boots simply won’t let your feet get wet.
Pros: Amazing waterproof rating, cannot be inundated even by standing in water, great insulation, ideal for use in cold weather
Cons: Too warm for use in hot climates and/or seasons
When Columbia Sportswear began to release gear and apparel stamped with its OutDry Extreme certification several years ago, it changed the outdoor clothing industry. Simply put, if you see the OutDry label on a piece of apparel, count on that item to be 100% waterproof.
You can trust me on this, too; I’ve worn various pieces of OutDry gear in downpours in the middle of a South American rainforest, in knee-deep snow in the northeast of the United States, and in many places in between.
Also, the word Titanium is significant, too. That’s the top-of-the-line stuff this world-renowned apparel brand makes. If you need to rely on a pair of boots to keep your feet dry and supported in wet or wintry weather, these are a safe bet.
The Daska Pass III boots are impressively lightweight for footwear that offers such superlative waterproofing, not to mention impressive insulation. Paired with the right socks, these boots keep your feet warm even in conditions well below the freezing point. And their tall, sturdy uppers keep your ankles safe from a sprain (or worse) even when you’re trekking across unstable terrain, like a shell of ice frozen over looser snow, for example.
The boots have an outsole made from durable Vibram rubber and a poured polyurethane midsole that offers you some extra bounce in your step, almost like you might get from a running shoe. It’s not quite the same level of rebound, but better than nothing!
Columbia’s Daska Pass III boots are at a decent price point, especially considering their durability. While in many conditions, the aforementioned insulation is a great asset, it’s also the main drawback of these boots. They are just too warm for use in some places and seasons. If you wear these boots on a low elevation summer trek, your feet are going to sweat so much the waterproofing won’t matter.
How to shop for hiking boots
Some boots are designed for use in snow and ice, making them ideal when paired with crampons or spikes. Others are light and breathable, designed to keep your feet cool even in the heat of the desert. You’ll even come across boots that work well in wet conditions that repel water while wicking sweat.
Put plainly, no one hiking boot is perfect for all conditions, so it’s important you choose a boot that’s best suited to the environments you frequent (or plan to frequent).
Pay attention to material, tread pattern, weight, and design elements like the height of the rise and the lacing system. Every aspect of a boot either contributes to or detracts from its suitability for a given environment or activity, and only through a thoughtful assessment of planned uses and a close study of the boot itself can you be sure to find a proper pair.
If you’re a serious hiker, climber, or camper, you’re going to want to own a few pairs of boots. This is especially true if the seasons vary greatly in your area or if you travel for your treks.
How we test hiking boots
Each hiking boot featured in this guide went through a testing process that consisted of more than just lacing them on and hitting the trail. Specifically, we wanted to see how they held up in a variety of conditions, and how well they did across these four categories: Fit, comfort, durability, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category contributed to whether a boot made the cut or not.
Fit: The fit of a hiking boot can spell the difference between enjoying a 10-mile excursion through the backcountry and doing nothing but focusing on the budding blister starting to form on your heel. This also comes down to how true-to-size a boot fits. You don’t want to buy a size 10 boot (because you normally wear a size 10 shoe) only to find out that it runs either too big, and doesn’t provide adequate support or too small, and places into that blister scenario above.
Comfort: Like fit, comfort can make or break a hike. The best hiking boots are somewhat comfortable out of the box but after a short break-in period, fit your foot like a sturdy glove. Even if you only plan on hiking for a few miles here or there, you don’t want to be groaning during every step you take. A comfortable boot helps you enjoy the hike far better than you can imagine.
Durability: Spending upwards of $100 or more on a pair of hiking boots may shock your wallet but if you’re buying those that come with the promise of durability, that investment will surely look great in a year or two. Hiking boots take an absolute beating, no matter where you hike, so the boots featured in this guide needed to be able to stand up to the constant abuse of a hiking trail.
Versatility: If you’re only able to buy one pair of hiking boots, it’d be worthwhile if they were able to tackle a variety of terrain, weather conditions, and hike types. Of course, specialized boots, like our pick for winter, should only excel in winter, but other recommendations like the best overall or the best for any condition should have a level of versatility that allows them to stand out in a variety of use cases.
Value: If a hiking boot carries an expensive price tag, you’d hope that it scores highly in all the aforementioned categories. In other words, value is less the actual sticker price and more so the sum of a boot’s parts. After all, you’re shopping and doing research in hopes of finding the best value for your money.