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
Merrell Men's Reflex
Great waterproof hiker. Good sole, fast break in, very comfortable I purchased a pair of these merrells for general hiking. It is my second pair of shoes from Merrell and although I do enjoy my original pair of shoes, these are far superior. I thought a vibram sole was the way to go but Merrell has done a stand up job at making one that rivals that of vibram. I find the waterproofing to be great as long as one dosnt decide to take these boots swimming. My only true complaint is that the soles have… Full review
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Backpacking Boot
Very comfortable, minimal break in time, waterproof, warm. Grip not the best on snow or ice. I've used these for hiking, backpacking, and climbing with and without crampons, on dry trail, muddy and wet trail, and alpine conditions. They are very comfortable boots, are fairly light, have good support and cushioning, and have taken some abuse with no ill effects. They are definitely waterproof and warm enough for snow (but still breathe well enough to be cool in warm weather), and clean up… Full review
Darn Tough Merino Boot Sock Full Cushion
This is what 'smart wool' used to be, years ago! These are what smart wool used to be, many years ago when they were first sold by LL Bean, but have since shifted to Asia. The Darn Tough socks are even better made, stronger, and with a more restricted sizing structure, so it is easier to get a nice fit. Well made, excellent wicking capability, and with the company's lifetime guarantee, they will find few returns. Wonderful socks for all four seasons. I even use the light wool in summer,… Full review
Meindl Ascona Identity
Wonderfully comfortable leather shoe This is a beautifully strong leather shoe, on trail, dog walking, casual wear, it is with a leather lining that forms to your foot over time. The leather is beautiful, with natural markings, and the construction second to none. Typical of Meindl's "Made In Germany" quality, this is the kind of shoe to wear for hurting feet. It is well made, and although comfortable out of the box, will take a bit to break in and soften and mold. I use it for light trail,… Full review
Meindl Men's Borneo
Great quality hiking boot made in Germany These are relatively lightweight (880 grams), all leather, versatile hiking boot that are rated "B" by Meindl, as an average surface hiking boot. I use it for day hiking and have tested it in the snows of Maine all winter. It is leather lined, not Gore-tex, which means the leather lining has been molding to my foot. The fit reminds me of a well-fit and well broken into ice skate, which, for players, feels like an extension of the foot. In the USA, I have… Full review
Teva Men's Karnali Wraptor
Almost lost my life with these. They are very dangerous on hard surfaces due to the hard plastic arch plate on the sole. Steer clear! These sandals have a hard plastic arch on the sole. When you are climbing over rock (wet or dry) and rest on this hard plastic, it slips. I was unfortunate enough to have slipped while climbing along a cliff over a ferocious waterfall and cauldron below. There was a scraping sound and then I was hanging by one hand over the "slot machine" (see below). It was not a… Full review
Chaco Men's Z/1 Unaweep
Durable sole. Easy to use strap. Holds well. Heavy. Sandal tread on the topside wears smooth. The shoes fit pretty well, although the sole is a bit stiffer than I think it needs to be. Breaks in well. Pretty comfortable. Support is decent. Water resistance: I love the old school minimal strap sandal. It dries faster than all the others. It's easy to shake out gravel, sand, and rocks. When straps get wet, they tend to rub and cause blisters. Traction: Holds pretty well on wet rock Temp control:… Full review