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
Oboz Men's Wind River
All in a all, a very high quality boot. This boot fits great, looks great, and preforms well above average. There is no doubt when I take a step that it will be solid. The sole is just right stiff after three months of use at work to break in (lots of ladder work and all weather conditions native to Southeast). They still feel brand new. If I have any negatives it would be the temperature—they are hot in summer and cold in winter (Granted I'm only wearing short cotton socks so I'll let you… Full review
Arc'teryx Men's Acrux FL Shoe
Like the engineering ideas, flaws in liner design. As a big fan of Arc'teryx products I was excited to see how they would reinvent the approach shoe. I liked the weight, the seamless body, the airflow, they were very comfortable. BUT, the first short hike of about three miles with no-show socks revealed that the non removable liner keeps moving around in the heel area, cutting through the skin of both my heels until blistering and bleeding. Can't return since they have been worn and the blistering… Full review
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 doesn't decide to take these boots swimming. My only true complaint is that the soles… 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 like… Full review
Darn Tough Merino Boot Sock Full Cushion
This is what 'smart wool' used to be, years ago! These are what Smartwool used to be, many years ago when they were first sold by L.L. 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, dog… 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