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
DeFeet Blaze Performance Trail Sock
Don't let the name put you off, these socks can be worn all year round, but especially standout in the colder months. An all around great sock. I've used this sock in a variety of outdoor pursuits in a variety of weather conditions with a variety of shoes/boots and the one constant in each situation was the quality and high-performance of this sock. Overview and Conditions: I came across these socks late last year at my local bike shop. Why they were carrying a trail sock was a bit surprising to… Full review
Altra Men's Olympus
For zero drop fans, this is a fantastic shoe for long, grinding runs or when you need some recovery cush. I've taken this shoe through mud, rocks, roots and it has held up great. I've also taken it out for extended road runs when the legs felt like they needed some added cushioning. An interesting take on a low drop shoe. At first I wasn't sure if I would like such a "maximalist" shoe. I've been a low profile, low drop fan for years. The Olympus pulls together the natural foot design and zero drop… Full review
Keen Men's Targhee II Mid
So comfortable, they've replaced my Vasques. After three days patrolling the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier, my feet felt like I'd walked a mile on soft dirt rather than about 15 miles on paved, dirt, snow-covered, and rocky trails. I volunteer at Mt. Rainier National Park, patrolling the highly used Paradise area of the park. Miles of paved, dirt, rocky, and snow-covered trails are my beat. I've worn a pair of Vasques or a pair of Columbia lightweight hiking boots since I started volunteering, but… Full review
Darn Tough Merino Micro Crew Sock Cushion
The difference between fresh caught shrimp from the ocean and popcorn shrimp at a fast food joint. I recently got turned on to Darn Tough socks and I have zero hesitation in saying I will never buy another brand again. Putting these on for the first time was as if the master sock artist, Leonardo DaSockio, had painted them on my feet. Not only was there absolutely zero bunching on the trail, but my feet stayed dry (very unusual for me), they provided the perfect amount of cushion and I didn't need… Full review
Meindl Nepal Pro
Steer clear, comfortable boot but the soles rot in about 12 months and fall apart Soles fall apart and rot after moderate use. After sales service is arrogant and rude. Much better value around and without the attitude of Stager Sports New Zealand. Terrible representative of a once good brand. Full review
Van Gorkom Men's Custom Hiking Boots
Crotchety old man. The service is the worst. When I placed an order he sent a kit. I sent the kit back. He whined that I put too much water on the paper, then punished me by increasing the price three times what he originally quoted. The boots are no better than what I can buy at Target Full review
Filson Uplander Boots
Nice high top boots. I got these used on e-bay, so paid about half price for a lightly worn pair. Fit is great, lacing works well, and I think they will be good with both light and medium socks. They don't have great arch support, but are still comfortable. I would not use these for any serious hiking as I prefer a European hiking/mountaineering boot for that. However, knocking around in the summer and fall these keep the cheat grass out of my socks, will last for years. They are also pretty… Full review