Besides the obvious of getting outdoors, enjoying nature, and challenging oneself–one of the biggest draws to hiking is how minimalist it is in terms of the gear needed to get going. Mountain biking, scuba diving, and even fishing require you to empty your pockets on equipment, accessories, and licenses before you can reap any enjoyment. But with hiking, all you need are the shoes on your feet and a will to get out and hit the trails.
Our Best Hiking Shoes Top List Reviews
Every outdoor adventurer has their own preferences when it comes to comfort and style–no matter the sport or activity. To that tune, there is no single best hiking shoe that will make every hiker feel like they are walking on clouds in every terrain. Every hiker has their own preference when it comes to weight, comfort, traction, waterproofing, aesthetics, and other factors to consider when purchasing a pair of shoes. Below we will look at six options considered to be some of the best hiking shoes on the market.
The North Face Hedgehog III GTX XCR Light Hiker
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The Hedgehog Light Hiker is the ultimate all-around trail shoe and, like its name implies, weighs in at only 1.59 lbs. a pair. A combined leather and mesh design makes the Hedgehog both lightweight and breathable, perfect for warm-weather conditions. The shoe is rated as waterproof with a GORE-TEX membrane–and while it will deflect moisture in most weather–it doesn’t stand up to being completely submerged (but few hiking shoes do).
Like a quality hiking shoe should, the Hedgehog features a Vibram sole with excellent traction on nearly every trail. The North Face doesn’t sacrifice comfort either and features a Heal Cradle support system and a compression-molded “Northotic” insole for ultimate arch support and foot stability. Just a day or two of normal wear will have the Hedgehogs broken in and ready for 10+ mile hikes and continued regular usage while upholding their comfort.
Keen Targhee II
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The Keen Targhee II hiking shoes appear to be a bit burly, but at only 2.1 lbs. a pair they are the perfect blend between nimble trail runners and rugged hiking boots. Keen broke the waterproof design mold on the Targhee II with a new eVENT membrane to repel moisture while keeping the shoe breathable. Keen uses its S3 (shock, suspension, stability) heel-support system to maximize comfort and prevent ankle rolling and twisting.
The Targhee’s rugged sole features widely spaced 4-mm rubber lugs designed to evenly grip any terrain–needless to say it effectively distributes you and your pack’s weight and stands up to slick and loose trails. An impressive array of features packed into a somewhat clunky design make the Keen Targhee II a solid contender in the hiking shoe category at a great cost.
Merrell Moab Waterproof
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The Merrell Moab Waterproof hiking shoe is a great pick for the occasional hiker concerned about keeping his/her feet dry in the event of a rainy trail day. Merrell recently switched over to its own waterproofing membrane, which has some users in protest, but most will attest to its ability to drain moisture and dry quickly. Like most shoes designed to keep your feet dry, the Moab sacrifices breathability in favor of waterproofing capability–some hikers may prefer the Moab Ventilator for this reason.
The Vibram sole makes this version of the Moab a great shoe for canyoneering and rock hopping on moss-covered riverbeds. Lacking an arch-support system and structurally sound uppers, the Merrell Moab is best suited for casual around-town use in wet weather with the occasional jaunt to the trail.
New Balance MO689 Multisport
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While New Balance may not be a big name among hiking outfitters, the MO689 Multisport Hiking Shoe is able to contend with any hiking brand’s shoe–on and off the trail. One of the more stylish hiking shoes on the market, the MO689s can go from city-street to mountain trail without missing a step. An injection-molded EVA system keeps your feet snug and helps to absorb shock on uneven terrain.
An evenly patterned rubber lug outsole enables efficient turning and braking capability. Some hikers may prefer a thicker sole or stronger construction, but many hikers are taking to brands like New Balance and shoes like the MO689 Multisport for their sheer comfort and versatility on any surface.
Vasque Juxt Multisport
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Like many shoes and boots made by Vasque, the Juxt Multisport has a distinctly styled streamline design with elements that resemble a technical climbing shoe. The Vasque Juxt shoes don’t utilize any waterproofing technology, making these great dry weather shoes and perfect for dusty desert trails, loosely packed mountain passes, and throwing on to hit the streets after a day at the beach.
They are comfortable enough to be daily walking shoes but will hold up for years on end for the occasional long day hike or weekend backpacking trip. If your feet are blistered or sore after a day of hiking in these, something is wrong with you–not the shoe. In all, the Vasque Juxt Multisport shoes look cool, feel good, and will stand up to wear and tear–all without breaking the bank.
Patagonia Drifter AC GXT Waterproof Boot
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A bulky Vibram sole and aggressive tread pattern help to nudge the Patagonia Drifter into boot category, but this is still very much a versatile and hard-charging hiking shoe. Despite being on the heavy side on the scale, the Drifters feel lightweight on your feet after a long day of hiking. Regardless, the shoe fits snugly and minimizes the effect of the hefty outsole, which is one of the best in its class. The Drifter AC GXT uses its big, burly lugs to provide adhesive-like traction to nearly any surface.
Trudge through a muddy river, clamber up a rocky bank, and cross into grassy field without slipping at each change of terrain. A GORE-TEX waterproof lining and nubuck leather uppers make this shoe exceptionally resilient to water, even when completely submerged. Again, this may not be suited for all hikers in all environments as waterproof shoes can run warm. The Patagonia Drifter AC GXT is one of the more expensive shoes featured in this group, but its quality construction, short break-in time, and ability to stand up to any and all trail conditions make it an easy favourite.
For hikers, the most important decision you make before hitting the trail is what shoes to put on your feet. The right shoe selection can mean the difference between a pleasant day on trail and one that is cut short with a rolled ankle or severe blistering. You want your hiking shoes to be as lightweight and comfortable as possible while still providing stability, dryness, and warmth.
Consider the terrain and weather you will be tackling most and whether or not you will be wearing your shoes off the trail is well. The most important thing is that you and your feet feel good every chance you have to get out and enjoy the many draws of hiking.
In case you didn’t knew what is a hiking shoe..
Hiking shoes fall into the category between trail-running shoes and hiking boots. They are lighter and more flexible than boots but offer more support and stability than running shoes. Unlike boots, most hiking shoes are easy to break in and can be put to use within a day or two of purchase. Some models offer a waterproof option, which have their advantages and drawbacks when it comes to functionality.
Hiking shoes are normally low cut with some ankle support and may be made from nylon or suede and reinforced with leather. Many quality shoes feature sturdy but lightweight soles by Vibram. Hiking shoes are quite versatile and can be used on moderate backpacking trips and day hikes alike and are typically stylish enough to be worn casually off the trail.
Feel free to comment if you’ve laced up and hit the trails with one of these models, or let us know about your favorite hiking shoe. Subscribe to our page for more reviews and the latest on other outdoor gear.
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