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 Thermoball Versa Boot
I've worn these boots for a day. Ankle hurts from stiff boots, possibly needs break in time.They are light, warm(30 degree day standing around all day at work).I normally wear 10.5 and these boots fit like other hiking boots, but I do have slightly narrow feet too. I wouldn't use them for hiking. Full review
Keen Men's Newport H2
Never ever Keen again! I bought Keen based on reviews and according to my needs. Fit was good, but lack of tightening below ankle. Seams start falling apart and by closer inspection I observe more loose thread ends. There were no possibilities for me to send sandals back and I spent few evenings to sew by hand with stronger thread (photos available). The lack of Keen reliability led to further walking with Teva, actually bought for city walking. Full review
Big Agnes Sleeping Mat
I purchased a Big Agnes sleeping mat which promptly began to deflate itself nightly. Thinking I must have gotten a Big Agnes defect, I purchased a second Big Agnes sleeping mat which also deflated by the first overnight. I weigh 160 lbs. Big Agnes needs to offer a money-back guarantee when their inferior products fail, which they have done repeatedly. It is asinine for Big Agnes to offer an identical replacement to a product that is so poorly made that the replacement fails, and the next replacement,… Full review
Darn Tough Men's Vertex Tab No Show Ultra-Light Cushion
A lifetime replacement guarantee says it all. A very soft, warm Merino wool sock with extra cushion underfoot. Darn Tough socks all come with a no questions asked lifetime guarantee, and that tells you all you need to know about the quality of their socks. In my neverending quest for the ultimate hiking sock, I like to test socks that are designed for other sports, such as running and biking. Being a fan of trail runners and low rise hiking boots I did all my testing of these Darn Tough Merino wool… Full review
Adidas Men's Terrex Fast X GTX
Well-constructed shoe, Gortex lined, fits well through the foot except the heel slips when walking. I bought these after reading numerous online reviews. I have a narrow foot and many reviewers stated that these shoes ran narrow. Well, they fit my feet perfectly except that the heels slip when I walk. I even tried thicker socks and that didn't help. Maybe Terrex mids would stop the heels from slipping? Full review
Ahnu Montara Boot
Boots failed to remain water tight after only one year. Ahnu's response was, "Thanks for letting us know." I purchased a pair of women's Ahnu Montara hiking books on November 19, 2015 (1 year and 10 days ago). I probably have about 400 miles on them. From day one, the shoes were very comfortable. There was no break-in period, and I experienced no problem with hot spots or blisters. They are extremely lightweight. I have a wide foot (due to bunions), and these boots accommodated my foot very well. Full review
Icebug Insoles FAT Medium
Really supports the arch well. Works well with large volume footwear. An effective replacement for inadequate footbeds. The Swedish company Icebug not only makes a wide range of outdoor footwear but they also make some really good insoles. The heart of the Icebug insole is their Arch Flex System which provides dynamic support for the metatarsal area of the forefoot, the midfoot arch, and the heel cup. Construction starts with a low friction top cover for comfort over a breathable open-cell foam… Full review