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
Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats
The Vargo Pocket Cleats are a front foot traction option for light hiking and running. I found that they are best for trail running on level terrain or for those interested in a lightweight back-up traction device. I had the opportunity to test the Vargo Pocket cleats on the back roads and trails of the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. I found them to be well made and an innovative use of titanium. However, they were not well suited for all applications I tested them in. Ease of Use: The… Full review
Merrell Men's Capra Sport
Capra, where have you been all my life?? The holy grail (for me, anyway) of light hikers. I have always had a difficult time finding hiking shoes/boots that fit. I have a number of issues: while my left foot is a solid size 14, my right foot is slightly larger, more like a 14.5; I have large bunions on both feet; severe over-pronaiter; narrow heel, but wide forefoot and long toes. Often I will find a shoe which feels great on the left side, but awful on the right. In my current quest to find a great… Full review
La Sportiva Men's Core High GTX
A light, all-fabric boot from one of the world's premier footwear makers, the La Sportiva Core High GTX competes well against similar offerings from the likes of Inov8 and Salomon. The combination of sticky rubber and a stable fit inspire confidence on all terrain. This is a solid backpacking boot, with thermoformed polyurethane (TPU) reinforcements on the upper, to provide abrasion resistance, and underfoot, to add stability. Best For: Thru-hikers who want more protection than a trail running shoe… Full review
Salewa Men's Mountain Trainer GTX
I am a seasoned boot user, but after reading a number of opinion blogs I thought I would try a hiking shoe. The Salewa Mountain Trainer has turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. While not as comfortable on my foot as my Aslo boots are, they have proven to be a very solid shoe and I really appreciate the lighter footwear compared to my boots. The shoe fits great. While it did require a good deal of time to break in, the shoe is relatively comfortable now. I have about 100 miles on the shoes… Full review
High quality, good fitting steel crampon; excess strap annoying. I use these for hiking and scrambling when there is enough slope that I need the grip. They hold well on ice and hard pack, and give some assurance in deep snow. The antibott works as advertised...I never get snow packing on them. They are a 10 point crampon and designed for regular hiking boots, NOT mountaineering boots. The toe and heel fittings fold down and the length collapses to make them easier to pack. The straps stay tight… Full review
Oboz Teewinot Low
Oboz introduces a very capable hybrid that is part low trail shoe and part approach shoe. It is somewhat heavier and less cushioned than most trail running shoes—so walk, don’t run. It is particularly well-ventilated for an full leather shoe, and the sticky rubber sole has outstanding grip yet ably sheds mud and muck. Durability should be great. Overall, a near-outstanding shoe: a close-fitting shoe that is all-day comfortable for walking and stellar for rock scrambling. Basic Information Out… Full review
Ozark Trail Hikers
Not high quality, but then, they are not high price. I bought these a couple of years ago on sale and as I had no immediate need put them away. I have started training for a backpacking trip and decided to use these. I have used about 30 days of approximately 6 to 10 miles a day with a 25 lb backpack. Pros: They are a comfortable boot. I did not really require a break-in period. They ran a bit small on me. I had to buy a size 10.5 for my size 10 W foot. That said I have had no blisters or hot… Full review