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
Simari Water Shoe
I'm always looking for good water shoes to use on my canoe and kayak adventures. Recently a company called SIMARI sent me a pair of water shoes to evaluate. I took the opportunity to try them out on a recent island vacation where I spent most of my time beachcombing and kayaking. For the price (about $20) these are very good water shoes. They are comfortable to wear, have good grip and drain water well, but at first glance, they seem a bit flimsy and only time will tell how durable they are. For… Full review
Meindl Super Perfekt
I have put over 300 kilometers on these boots, which are four months old and for which I paid a king’s ransom, and they are the most uncomfortable boots I have ever worn. The foot bed is like cement. After an hour of walking in them my feet are aching. Why are they made so hard and inflexible? Typical German overengineering. I walked the Camino Frances (800 Kms) in another model of Meindl boots and they were great, but I wore them out. Thought this time I’d try the Super Perfekt (supposedly… Full review
Snowline Chainsen Pro
I found myself crawling uphill on all fours through icy snow—not even trying to use the glass-slick trails—and headed right out to buy these. Absolutely love 'em. But who carries them? I got the last pair at Sierra, and I want some for my wife. Very good traction on hard ice and packed snow. Full review
Sorel Men's Caribou
Just bought a pair of Caribous from a vendor on eBay, new. They are described as leather, but were treated and are more like suede. Put them in my sink with water and water soaked through the suede. Not waterproof and not leather. Full review
Salomon Women's X-Mission 3
The second pair I've bought. These are my all time favorites! I like the fit of these shoes. I tend to have a slightly wider than normal toe space and average heel. I like that the toe box on these shoes are roomy. The quick pull laces are great for fast adjusting. No issues on the break-in period. Not a blister or hotspot. I wear them hiking and have zero problems. They are not waterproof, so I do not wear them hiking in the rain, but I wear them running errands in the rain and they are fine (I… Full review
Salomon Women's Speedcross 4
Great trail running shoe if you're not in the rain. I bought these shoes because they are waterproof. These shoes fit my foot a little slim. The tongue is chunky and slides a lot, and they are a little too low. I was not able to wear them in the rain for long because they just filled up with water. Glad I didn't step in any puddles. They are a nice color, and the grip is amazing. Full review
EMS Men's Arete GTX
EMS Arete GTX—Made by Zamberlan for EMS in 2004 and 2005. A rare and awesome hardcore hiking and mountaineering boot. Gore-tex lined. The fit is perfect for my size 11 (45) normal width feet. I have purchased two pairs on Ebay through the years and they are often mis-advertised and usually quite reasonable. These were about $250 when new 15 years ago. I have owned many similar boots in the past, La Sportiva Glaciers, Asolo, Vasque, Lowa, etc. The EMS Arete GTX is without question the best boot… Full review