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
I have a pair that are barely used at all. Sat in dads closet new for years well oiled. Size 9 D. Make me an offer My dad purchased them in the early 80s brand new in hopes of hitting the alps. They are too amall for him. Hes kept them well oiled but has only worn them twice, they have minor scuffs. Hes trying to finance a vacation and asked that i sell them for a fair price. Full review
Darn Tough Over-the-Calf Lightweight sock
Merino wool socks keep your feet warm while controlling foot odor. The legendary lifetime guarantee can't be beaten. I received these Darn Tough socks in August and have been testing them since the beginning of this ski season. The only difference between the Darn Toughs Colorado and Honeycomb socks is the percentage of Merino wool and Nylon they have added to the 3% of Spandex they incorporated into the yarn. The Colorado has 62% Merino Wool/ 35% Nylon blend and the Honeycomb has a 56% Merino Wool/… Full review
AKU Alpina Plus GTX
Low quality and bad customer service. Beware the average quality of Aku. I had some boots which looked good and were performing okay, but suddenly the plastic/rubber midsole went all brittle and now they are unwearable. I discussed this case with Aku directly, but they said it was out of warranty so nothing they could do, which I thought was very poor customer service. Allan Full review
The North Face Women's Chilkats
Bought these boots on clearance and stored them in the box under the bed. First time they were worn they cracked all the way across the toe on both boots. Complete garbage! Boots looked and felt great until I tried to wear them on my first winter trip. Both boots cracked across the toe. Full review
Limmer Men's Mid-Weight
Heavy duty, will eventually conform to your feet, may outlast the wearer. I have over 500 GPS miles on these boots, including the 110-mile Tour de Mont Blanc. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, you don't want your GoreTex booties to rip, or your glues to unbind, or whatever miracle material du jour letting go. I am 61, and old school on many things. If you are going from your Lexus to spend a few hours on the trail all plugged in to your fitbit and iPhone...these are quite heavy, and… Full review
Oboz Men's Bridger Low BDry
The soft upper and comfortable insole required virtually no break-in period. The aggressive sole is great for light snow and rough terrain. I purchased this shoe because I needed a local hiker because my Merrells wore out after several years of hard use. I found these at an REI Garage Sale and at 75% off, and with their initial fit feeling very good, I took a flyer on them. What a home run!!! The soft upper and comfortable insole required virtually no break-in period. The aggressive sole is great… Full review
No better traction device made, short of full crampons. This is my fourth winter season with the same Microspikes and they are now approaching 2,000 miles of trail running. I get some great stares from folks slipping and sliding along the trails as I run by at full tilt :) I've never had them come off. They easily pull on and off. The only maintenance I do is touch them up with a file about twice each winter. In addition to trail running they go in the pack for early season hiking when there is… Full review