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
Merrell Men's Moab Edge
Seeking to provide a low cost hiking shoe, Merrell has marketed the worst hiker I have ever used. Merrell should be embarrassed to have this shoe in their lineup. Usage: Day-to-day wear at work. I facilitate team building and maintain hiking trails at my conference center. So essentially, I am doing day hikes throughout the week. Lifespan: I did not even get 10 months/200 miles out of these shoes before they started falling apart. The frustration I have with Merrell is product inconsistency. My… Full review
Keen Men's Voyageur Mid
Lightweight, not waterproof, soles separate. After ditching Merrell because they turned to very poor quality, I switched to Keen. For the price (I got it for much less than $125 and new) this is a decent lightweight shoe. One should have no expectations about them being waterproof; I knew this going in, so no problem there. However, I've spent a lot of time gluing the soles together, as they simply separate. Not the whole thing but substantial parts where the black tread protrudes from the overall… Full review
Vasque Men's Clarion GTX
Purchased these in 2010. 5 stars until yesterday during Hurricane Florence, both soles split apart. Boots have had very light duty—no overnight trips—and now I find in other reviews this is a common problem! Almost wore them on difficult NC mountain hike last week. Glad I wore my Raptors! Will not replace with Vasque. I would have rated these five stars for fit, comfort, support, water tight, and stability on all surfaces. However with both soles falling apart while walking and clearing drains… Full review
Merrell Moab 2 Mid Gore-Tex
Great boots, crappy shoelaces. I was looking for some boots to use for our 10-day hiking trip to Philmont scout camp. I had never owned a pair of Merrells because of the high price. They were recommended by the high end outdoor store in my area. I bit the bullet and bought them. They were GREAT, 10 days on the trail, not one blister. I paired them with some Smartwool socks and liners, and was the only one in our crew who didn't have foot issues. They stayed waterproof for about a year, and then… Full review
Merrell Everbound Low
These shoes are styled and made to old fashioned quality standards, all leather uppers and a solid super Vibram sole makes this look and feel like old fashioned quality. With monotonous frequency I have to search for replacement hiking shoes so it seems. So after a web search I hit the retailers and found these shoes by Merrell called Everbound Low hiking shoes. They stood out with the quality of both construction and materials and with $100 off retail were most attractive. Now for the nitty gritty. Full review
Merrell Outmost Ventilator
A lightweight, low cut, trail looking shoe that should not have Merrell’s brand on it. I found these to be extremely short on cushioning and support. My knees and legs hurt after wearing a short time. i think my summary says enough. I was totally disappointed in this model as compared to my Moab Vent. The Outmost is not even close to providing the comfort, support, or performance I expect from Merrell. Full review
Asolo Men's FSN 95 GTX
Comfortable but not worth the money because of sole separation. I'm on my second pair. The first pair had the sole separate after hiking the Georgia AT section. Bought a second pair because they are very comfortable, no blisters and keep you dry. I had hoped it was just a bad boot the first time. The second boot had the sole separate two days ago after only hiking a week several years ago and then a handful of just day hikes for the past few years. I don't know if the sole could be glued to the… Full review