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
Ecco Rugged Track
Very comfortable boots (once broken in) with superb grip. However, the sole could be more rigid and is prone to wear. Ecco Rugged Track boots I bought these boots online, and as soon as they arrived I noticed that they had some creasing on the forefoot. Clearly someone had tried them on and returned them before they were sent to me. However, there were no signs of wear on the outsole and – for what it’s worth – the Gore-tex tags were still attached. I decided that they could not have been… Full review
Columbia Men's Trail Meister
Not a comfortable shoe overall. It's narrow and build quality is lacking. I thought I was getting a quality pair (for its name). I was wrong. Full review
Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Sieve
Good compromise between a shoe and sandal that works well wet or dry. Background: I have only had these for four months but have walked around 100 km (60 miles). So far they have been very good. I got them for use in water on a trip to Lord Howe Island (World Heritage listed and fabulous—look it up), but my hiking boots fell apart on the first day so I finished up wearing them for everything: hiking, kayaking, coral reef walks, dinner, the lot. Comfort: Great, straight from the box. These are… Full review
Hanwag Alaska GTX
Garbage boots. I wore these at most twenty times and the toe box collapsed. Hanwag completely ignored me and the retailer told me to see a shoe repair. They do not stand by their product and when I left a review on Hanwag.ca they deleted it. As I wrote above, these boots are garbage. I bought a pair new, worn at maximum twenty times. I've lived in cheaper boots for the past 15 years, but since changing duties I no longer wear boots every shift. Thus, how I know how many times I wore these boots. Full review
This review is my initial impression of the Superfeet Orange insoles that I hope will address some issues I have been having with my feet. After I get in a few hikes using these new insoles I will come back and provide an update to this review with my final impressions. I am heading out on a trip in a few days to do some hiking and hopefully a little fishing in the Black Hills area of South Dakota and also spending some time hiking in Arches National Park and Moab in Utah and decided I would break… Full review
Vasque Men's Sundowner GTX
Our official boot since the 1990s. The originals were as close to indestructible as a boot can get. The Chinese model isn't quite as good, but still beats anything else out there. As guides of backpacking trips and editors of OutpostUSA adventure travel magazine, we're on the trails a lot. We all wear Sundowners all the time year round. Yes, we religiously treat and polish them after each trip and sometimes even in mid trip. We buy a new pair, use them as dress boots in town for a year, then move… Full review
La Sportiva Men's Nepal Extreme
The standard by which other mountaineering boots are measured. I was surprised by the one-star review for this product, until I read the full review. As a person who has been mountaineering for over 37 years, I felt the need to comment. I have to swallow hard these days when entering an outdoor store. Shops that were once the domain of self-reliant enthusiasts have been replaced by a "new" breed of outdoor consumer. They increasingly shop by online reviews, like this one, or by taking the… Full review