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
Salomon Men's X Ultra 2 GTX
Great long distance hiking shoe for light weight and reliability. Ideal for people with back issues that wish to have supportive, light weight trail boots with ankle support. I'm a woman with large feet (women's 11) and I do long distance hiking in the UK/Ireland/US. I walk at least two hours a day during my work life and up to 12 hours a day when I'm on the trail. I sized up after my first pair and haven't had any issues since. My feet tend to need more room when walking under a loaded pack for… Full review
Merrell Men's Moab Waterproof
This product is a very good shoe for the average hiker who might encounter uneven terrain and possible wet conditions. No break-in period needed. Breaths very well and kept feet dry when walking through hardened snow and wet forest floor. Can take a beating, only down side is that I dried them by a camp fire and sole started to separate from heat. Full review
Swiss Barefoot Company Free Your Feet (Classic Swiss)
Dyneema material rubberised socks that allow you to really feel the terrain under your feet. Minimises risk of cuts when wanting to go barefoot. The FYF (Free Your Feet) is a great pair of socks for those into water sports or those that want to go barefoot. Made out of Dyneema fibre that has tensile strength 15 times greater than steel it protects your feet from any type of cut (e.g. selfish, glass), friction injury (blisters from rough terrain) or scratches (from twigs and stones). However, it… Full review
Vibram Women's FiveFingers KSO
I have been wearing my Vibrams for four years. I can hike a mile upriver on a wooded trail then float down through class 1/2 rapids. They form to your feet making it safer to climb on rocks which can be slimey and slippery. You could jog or run in them, but it is painful on the feet when there are rocks, ie gravel roads. I bought this product four years ago and still wear them whenever I go kayaking or for a float down the river at our house, basically any water sport where you don't want your feet… Full review
Alpine Design River Sandals
Recently purchased sandal different in price and design. Evidently "Alpine Design" means good as a water shoe for the lake or sea. Don't know if i can recommend, but the price was right. Full review
Salomon Kaipo CS WP
For warm winter days. Choose 1/2 size bigger. Nice and light boots with a shoe-like fit. I wear them when I go snowshoeing. A little bit too narrow for my feet. Still a nice little boot. Full review
Vasque Men's Breeze 2.0 Mid GTX
This is a very comfortable boot. The boot is well constructed and durable. A nice light boot with a great vibram sole. I purchased a pair of these boots 8 years ago to hike some trails in Cape Breton NS. When these were purchased there was no need for working these boots in. The were very comfortable and handled steep muddy surfaces, rocky creek beds and long hikes. I also used these for hunting and they were so light and comfortable on my feet. Never had wet feet. I finally had to throw… Full review