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 Women's Chilkats
Bought these boots on clearance and stored them in the box under the bed. First they were worn they cracked all the way across the toe on both boots. Complete garbage! Boots looked and felt great until I tried to wear them on my first winter trip. Both boots cracked across the toe. Full review
Limmer Men's Mid-Weight
Heavy duty, will eventually conform to your feet, may outlast the wearer I have over 500 GPS miles on these boots, including the 110 mile Tour de Mont Blanc. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, you don't want your GoreTex booties to rip, or your glues to unbind, or whatever miracle material du jour letting go. I am 61, and old school on many things. If you are going from your Lexus to spend a few hours on the trail all plugged in to your fitbit and iPhone...these are quite heavy, and… Full review
Oboz Men's Bridger Low BDry
The soft upper and comfortable insole required virtually no break in period. The aggressive sole is great for light snow and rough terrain. I purchased this shoe because I needed a local hiker because my Merrell's wore out after several years of hard use. I found these at an REI Garage Sale and at 75% off, and with their initial fit feeling very good, I took a flyer on them. What a home run!!! The soft upper and comfortable insole required virtually no break in period. The aggressive sole is great… Full review
no better traction device made short of full crampons This is my fourth winter season with the same microspikes and are now approaching 2000 miles of trail running. I get some great stares from folks slipping and sliding along the trails as I run by at full tilt :) I've never had them come off. They easily pull on and off. The only maintenance I do is touch them up with a file about twice each winter. In addition to trail running they go in pack early season hiking when there is a good chance… Full review
Herman Men's Survivor
Still wearing these lightweight Herman 8" Survivor camo boots, for 3 years. Guess I'm the lucky one, soles still attached. Did an 8-mile trail hike yesterday, lightweight and keeps my feet warm but not real sweaty even at 8 F. Got em at WalMart as a closeout and am tempted to get another pair online if I can find my size. Full review
Good device in between a Yaktrak and mountaineering crampon. I used a pair of the very inexpensive YakTrax exactly one time and decided to find something more substantial after the YakTrax kept getting dislodged from my boots while hiking relatively tame trails. In my search for a better traction device, but not a full-on crampon, I found the Kahtoola Microspikes. I've used a set of Microspikes now for around three years. Lots of rough, steep, rocky, icy and snowy off-trail stuff here in the foothills… Full review
Lowa Uplander GTX
Lightweight waterproof boots. May not be suitable for all foot shapes due to a deep forefoot. I bought my Lowa Uplanders at the end of 2015 for use as urban bad weather footwear. At the time I did not intend to use them for hiking. I did my hiking in mid-height boots of the sort used by most hikers—in my case, Lowa Renegades. Uplanders come in two styles, smooth black (marketed as a military boot) and suede, and for my intended use I chose the smooth black. Until autumn 2016 I made limited use… Full review