Best Hiking Shoes: Stay Comfortable As You Explore

Put a spring in your step on the trail with the best hiking shoes

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Have you been thinking of going for a hike? Or, maybe you hike regularly and you need a new pair of shoes. Whether you’re a hiking amateur or a pro, one thing for sure is you need the best gear for tackling the trails. We’ve researched many pairs of hiking shoes and have included three of the best in this buying guide. 

  • Best Overall
    Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
    Summary
    Summary
    Put on a pair of the Classic Moab 2 hiking shoes and hike like a pro. They provide heel support, toe protection, and keep your ankles safe—even on tough terrain. The midsole is made from EVA-foam, while the outsole is made from Vibram TC5+ rubber.
    Pros
    Pros
    The outsole is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and rough terrain. There is a layer of Gore-Tex underneath the inner breathable mesh to keep each shoe dry and maintain proper circulation. These shoes provide comfort and heel support.
    Cons
    Cons
    The deep cushioning on the heel could push your achilles against the back of the shoe, causing injury. The shoe also provides below-par traction on muddy terrain. The upgraded lacing style doesn’t allow for tight lacing.
  • Best Value
    Columbia Women's Dakota Drifter
    Summary
    Summary
    The Dakota Drifter makes it easy to transition from day-to-day casual walks to mid-technical hiking. They are waterproof and will keep your feet dry in rain, ice, or snow. The rubber sole features Omni-Grip technology, giving you traction and keeping water out
    Pros
    Pros
    The manufacturer uses rubber, mesh, leather, and suede to create outlays that provide your feet with superior comfort and support—even after multiple hikes. The Techlite midsole and firm toe box are designed to keep your feet firmly in place.
    Cons
    Cons
    The interior could use more cushioning; the shoes start to feel uncomfortable after long walks. They also expose the ankles, making you susceptible to ankle rolls if you encounter unforgiving trails.
  • Honorable Mention
    KEEN Men's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
    Summary
    Summary
    These shoes are easy to put on and remove and keep you comfortable as you hike in different environments. They are made from long-lasting, high-quality leather to offer you service for the long term. Cleansport NXT innovation keeps your feet and shoes odor-free.
    Pros
    Pros
    You’ll feel comfortable as you hike, thanks to the hydrophobic mesh lining, padded tongue and collar, and contoured heel lock. The mid-cut and outsole help you to avoid slips and painful ankle injuries on slippery terrain. The dual-density compression-molded midsole offers unsurpassed comfort.
    Cons
    Cons
    They take a while to break in and might hurt your feet initially. The quality of the finishing and binding can’t be compared to that of previous versions, and the shoes may come apart after a short period of regular use.

Tips

  • Because leather is highly prone to shrinking, it is wise to purchase shoes that are about a half size bigger. That way, you can be sure they will fit at all times.
  • When fitting hiking shoes, make sure you’re wearing hiking socks that fit perfectly. Since you will probably wear hiking socks on your hikes, they can affect the shoes’ comfort. 
  • If you hike regularly on different terrains, you need shoes with adequate cushioning. These types of shoes offer good traction on difficult terrain and help you to avoid any possible injuries. 

FAQs

Q: How do I clean leather hiking shoes?

A: Leather hiking shoes hide dirt well—this is one of their biggest strengths. However, after a while, you will need to clean them. Use leather cleaner and conditioner for that purpose. 

Q: How do I know the size I need for hiking shoes?

A: While wearing your hiking socks, place your foot on the ground. Use a ruler to measure your foot from the back of your heel to the longest toe. Next, measure your foot across the widest part. This will help you determine the shoe size.

Q: Should I get hiking shoes or hiking boots?

A: If you don’t plan on carrying heavy loads when hiking, hiking shoes are a great option. However, if you’ll be carrying a load over 30 pounds, you should get boots as they offer more ankle support. 

Final Thoughts

We recommend the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe for hikers of all levels. They provide heel support and toe protection, and also protect against harsh weather conditions.

We also love the budget-friendly Columbia Women's Dakota Drifter for their comfort, practicality, and style.