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
The North Face Arctic Hedgehog Tall Boot
Overall this boot is a great value; rigid, watertight but reasonably breathable, and overall great construction and forethought. I have used these boots in the Canadian Rockies during the most challenging season, early spring thaw, when plenty of mud, ice, unforeseen puddles, and concealed slippery roots are all lying in wait for a possible mishap but the footwear performs flawlessly; great traction, insulated, and superior support without many hot-spots. When you're hiking, one should generally… Full review
Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Aero Sport
I wanted to love these hiking shoes, but they just didn't win me over after multiple backcountry hiking trips. They did not hold up in the arch area for comfort on long backpacking trips. Merrell All Out Blaze Aero hiking shoes Good traction on soles Extra rubber protection in the toe box I bought these shoes at REI during a sale. I tried them on and was super impressed with how comfortable they felt. I never would have guessed that these were about to be one of the worst shoes for backpacking. Full review
Mion Men's Tide Scramble
Great shoes, perhaps the best I've ever owned. Rugged and long lasting. Best shoes I've ever owned. Still wear my first pair daily after 10 years. It's a shame they're not made anymore. Nothing compare. Full review
La Sportiva Men's Wildcat
A sturdy trail runner fit for lightweight backpacking. The outsole on this shoe is the best thing since the old Vibram soles on my heavy full-leather boots. They stick to every condition I've encountered on the Appalachian Trail (except for mossy wet rock, but everyone is going to break their neck on that stuff). Lightweight and breathable. If the shoe fits, wear it! After 15 years backpacking in heavy, full leather, boots, I finally decided to give a trail runner a try. I wish I had switched sooner. Full review
Adidas Women's Terrex Swift R GTX
Feet stayed dry! Stomping through puddles and mud and snow, socks dry as a bone! I am wowed by these trail shoes in more ways than one. Adidas shoes in very bright turquoise and yellowFeet dry and surprisingly warm! I actually bought these shoes when I traded in my Merrell All out Blaze hiking shoes after 6 months. It was a day before a 4-night trip out in the Olympics. I needed a shoe, any shoe at that point because my arches were aching so badly from the Merrells. I spotted these and tried a… Full review
Herman — made in China - blech!!! These are NOT the American made Herman Survivors that you remember if you are 60 years old!! Cheesy quality, honestly no better than Wally-Mart brands that you never heard of. K-Mart's Texas-Steer brand is better quality. Sad! Make them in America again! Make America (and Herman) GREAT again! Full review
Galibier Super Guide
Bought my pair in early '70s for $52 in San Diego. They are exceptional mountaineering boots. I have no idea how many total miles since then. Great for off-trail and heavy packs. Third set of soles, one shank. Untold miles on the PCT, Continental Divide, Grand Canyon, and local California mountains. Served me well in Mountain Rescue and as a California State Park Ranger. They are sturdy, comfortable and yes, heavy, compared to today's standards. There is some break-in needed. Leather will generally… Full review