Proper, comfortable footwear can make the difference between outdoor adventure and outdoor agony. Save yourself the blisters. Find our top hiking, backpacking, and climbing shoes and boots, plus trail runners, sandals, and water shoes below.
Browse thousands of independent footwear reviews and ratings by real hikers, backpackers, mountaineers, climbers, paddlers, and trail runners to select appropriate, dependable, field-tested shoes for your next trip. And don’t forget the wicking socks, gaiters, insoles, and booties. Your dogs will thank and reward you.
Reviews and product information will point you to quality outdoor footwear, but ultimately the most important aspect is a good fit. Here are some tips to help you properly fit hiking and backpacking boots:
Try on boots at the end of the day, when your feet are their largest.
Wear the socks and any insoles or inserts you would normally use with the boots.
One of your feet is probably larger than the other. Size boots to the larger foot. Better to have one shoe a little loose than the other too tight.
Walk around in the boots for at least 15 minutes.
Toes should have a little room to wiggle, and shouldn't jam into the toe box.
Heels should feel firmly in place with no heel slippage.
Walk up and down an incline to check for heel slippage on the uphill and any toe jamming on the downhill.
Try different styles and widths. You may be a different size in different brands.
Women typically should consider footwear that's built on a women's last, instead of models sized down from a men's last (but everyone is different, buy the shoes that fit you).
Boots should feel like they fit initially. Don't rely on breaking them in to make them fit. If they don't fit now, they won't stretch to fit later.
While you want to pick a boot that fits from the start, you can tweak boots with custom orthotics and insoles (to fill up extra space), professional stretching of the boot (to add space), and different lacing techniques (to reduce foot movement).
No matter how well they fit, don't forget to break in your boots around the house or on some easy day hikes before you embark on that weeklong backpacking trip.
Recent Footwear Product Reviews
Inov-8 Roclite 286 GTX
EXCEEDINGLY lightweight, GoreTex-lined, light duty hiking boots. These actually weigh less and performed the same as my old Lowa light hikers, with less ankle support. I have used them daily now for two weeks, doing everything from running errands in the rain to some light hikes with about 15-20 lbs of gear. They perform better than advertised; my first pair of truly ultralight hiking boots. I was looking for a true ultralight pair of light duty hiking boots, with Gore Tex coverage. These have fit… Full review
Mion Women's Ebb Tide Slide
Please bring this style back. I want them. I have owned four pairs and need to replace. Full review
Chaco Men's Beckwith
Good looking torture device. Much like several other users have found, these don't fit my feet at all. I bought these 12 years ago and have less than 150 miles on them. I tried to break them in but the pain was too much to handle. Now to start off I walk 5 miles a day at a minimum, and often with a 20+lb pack. I have worn many different boots over the years and these are the worst. Even the cheap Hi-Tecs I bought were more comfortable. I can typically hike 15 miles a day with a full pack and no… Full review
Vasque Men's Breeze 2.0 Low GTX
The Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX is a very comfortable sport shoe best suited for hiking and lightweight backpacking. This is 4-star comfort with 2.5-star durability, but it fits the niche I need: a low-top hybrid boot/shoe that accepts my custom orthotics and wears comfortably out of the box. I've been using these since mid-2015 and just bought the third pair. [click picture to enlarge] About the shoe:… Full review
Mountain Lodge Merino Wool Outdoor Sport Socks
Mountain Lodge Merino Wool Outdoor Sport Socks are a great option for day hiking and casual wear when your day includes hiking boots/shoes and casual footwear. They may also be good for those who hike with liner socks. I bought these socks on a lark to see if I could add some personality to my hiking sock collection. Don't get me wrong, function and comfort are more important than fashion on trial. However, as a long-time lover of socks with personality, I couldn't pass these up. Fit and Comfort… Full review
Not a very good hiking boot, but good for short-term use until you find something better. I would not recommend them even for casual use. You will replace them within 2 to 3 months. Full review
Altra Women's Lone Peak 3.0
The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is a trail shoe designed for a woman's foot and I recommend it for anyone looking for a wide, comfortable toe box and light weight shoe for hiking or backpacking. I’ve been alternating between boots and the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 trail shoes all winter. The backpacking debate rages on—trail runners versus boots. I’ve tried trail runners before and didn’t find them to be stable enough on uneven surfaces. Many people hiking the John Muir Trail rave about Altras so I decided… Full review