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 Continuum
I bought them for a trip to Toronto. Huge blisters on my ankles- even without tying them tight. I have a 15 year old Nike pair that I’m back to wearing. Blisters 3 weeks old this weekend. I pissed $100 away They are very uncomfortable. I have 3 week old blisters on my ankles. I will not wear them again. I will not buy merrell again. I’m back to wearing my 15 year old Nike boots. Full review
Kayland Apex Plus GTX
Technical boot with integrated gaiter, developed for winter mountaineering and suitable for use on ice and mixed terrains. According to my research, the Kayland Apex Plus GTX boots proved to be a worthy companion when tackling the snowy mountains. It was appreciated for its grippy sole, compatibility with crampons, and efficient waterproofing. The Kayland Apex Plus GTX boots meet the expectations of mountaineers. Do not walk on a fancy wood… Full review
There are hundreds of different Vibram soles. Some are better than others. So you need to be specific when you are talking about outer soles. The Vibram on my Saucony Xodus 4 is super long lasting. The one on my Merrell is quite different and not so long lasting. Both grip great on wet surfaces. Full review
Keen Men's Targhee II
Soles started falling to pieces after only a month or so. This is my second pair of Targhee IIs. My first pair were worn most days for 2-3 years, including much wilderness hiking as well as city walking. I ended up replacing them when the wear on the heal became obvious—they were great. The new pair are at the other end of the spectrum as far as quality. It seems that the glue used to hold the layers of the sole together was substandard. Part of the tread started peeling away after only a few… Full review
Herman Big Timber II
Not comfortable anymore. Went to purchase my yearly pair of boots come to find out they change the sole to a solid rubber instead of cork with a rubber overlay. They are very uncomfortable now. The sole may last longer, but what's the point if your feet are sore all day? Full review
Herman Men's Survivor
This it the worst piece of crap boot I have ever owned. I bought Herman Survivor boots at Wal Mart and they are complete junk. I bought these for archery deer season. I put the boots on in my basement game room and walked to the garage to get to my truck, 30 yards. Got to the woods, got out of my truck and walked to my stand 400 yards. Sat in my stand till dusk and started out and halfway 200 yards the right boot sole in the back came loose. I kept walking and within another 50 yards it completely… Full review
The North Face Men's Chilkats
I never write reviews, but felt a duty to others to tell them to save their money. I couldn't believe that my boots, which I've worn only a dozen times, are falling apart. The rubber is cracked all the way across the top of my boot. I saw many other similar complaints. I spent a lot of money on these boots to make it through Minnesota winters. I thought I was investing in a reliable product. I love North Face products, but these boots are a wreck. I see the warranty is only for 1 year, so I'm just… Full review