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
Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX
Most comfortable shoe I've ever worn! I have been wearing these shoes every day for over a year now and they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. I don't even care for the way these look, but bought them based on reviews. I like the way other shoes look, but when these wear out I will buy another pair. Full review
This classic Vasque Sundowner boot was the best bang for the buck. It had excellent reviews and is an issue to most of our Park Rangers for use throughout the year. These boots amazingly, felt almost broken in when first laced on my feet. They are a no seam leather ankle high and can be worn comfortably as shoes around town or hiking in the Everglades or climbing Up Pikes Peak. Sand, dirt, H2O cannot detract from the steady comfort and support these classics provide. Unless you are a fanatic with… Full review
The North Face Men's Ultra 109 GTX
This trail shoe is all about comfort and fit. A technically sound shoe. After 15 plus years of amateur trail running this shoe is finally "the one." This is the first and only trail shoe I have used where my feet did not hurt after a run. I have been wearing Cascadia for a few years and I just thought everything was supposed to hurt as I "matured". I am 6' and 210, 59 yrs old. I happened across these in a web search so I decided to give them a spin. I wear 11.5D dress shoe and I sized up to 12.5. Full review
Vasque Men's Sundowner GTX
Great looking boot that performs well: this boot will do just about everything and do it well. I've owned the Vasque Sundowners before, and loved them, but as I was preparing for a trek through northeast New Mexico (Philmont Scout Ranch, for those that know it), I learned that Vasque now had their boots made in China, and a great many reviewers had concerns about the quality. However, I did my homework, and there just isn't any other waterproof breathable boot available for this price, so I paid… Full review
Asolo Men's TPS 520 GV
Moderate to heavy backpacking, summer to early winter boot. Great ankle support, Gore tex lining. I would recommended for people with med to wide feet, sizes run true. Bought my first pair for a hike thru the Smokey Mountain National Park on the AT. They take awhile to break in due to the heavy leather uppers but form to your foot like a protective glove once they are broken in. I fitted mine with Superfeet custom foot beds to compensate for my high arch. The Goretex lining work superbly. Only way… Full review
Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek
A very lightweight camp shoe, with no frills. For several years, I've used a pair of old Teva sandals as camp shoes for backpacking trips. They're relatively comfortable, not too heavy, and seem nearly indestructible. But I am always looking to lighten my pack weight, and these caught my eye. Xero is a newish company specializing in "barefoot" style running sandals. The soles are thin, and designed to feel everything underfoot, while still maintaining some protection against sharp things. The good:… Full review
Ahnu Sugarpine Shoe
Super comfortable, lightweight, and durable hiking shoes. First off, these are super comfortable! I wanted a shoe for trails where you don’t need a full-on hiking boot, but I need more than tennies. These are perfect. I really didn’t need to break them in at all — 10 mile hike the first day. They provided the extra support I wanted and are everything the manufacturer says: lightweight, durable, waterproof. I almost didn’t buy these as the clerk tried to steer me towards a different brand… Full review