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
Swiftwick Pursuit Four Sock
Swiftwick is as good as it gets for scent-free, blister-free comfort, wicking, and durability. I have owned Swiftwick socks of one variety or another for five or so years now. I've worn them up and down several Cascades Volcanoes and they are now my go-to light hiking and running socks. Test Conditions: I received two almost identical sets of Swiftwick socks about four months ago and I have included them in all my fitness, trail runs, gym workouts and hikes in the hills. It's been long-pants season… Full review
Lowa Men's Renegade GTX Mid
Not what they used to be. Unfortunately within two or three years, three pairs of Renegade Lowa GTX (two Mids and one Lo), have had their Vibram soles detach and disintegrate long before anything else on the shoe/boot showed any signs of wear. The soles had wonderful tread left, the stitching was excellent, and the interior showed no signs of rubbing-type wear. For the relatively high price one pays for Lowas and the relatively light use over two or three years this brand is no longer worth it. Full review
I agree, BEST boots ever and BEST I've ever owned. I got some FOR SALE right now on E-Bay. Full review
The North Face Chilkat
Be aware...North Face ignores design faults. My love of their products has gone. These were bought purely as I had MS. They were excellent to keep my feet warm. I had the coat which was great. They split within 16 weeks. Our thick woollen lounge carpet is not exactly rough terrain! A design fault clearly ignored. God knows what you would do if North Face boots had split on the mountain. Really, sadly, not worth the risk. I am one of many that have had this happen. They try to put the blame on the… Full review
Danner Women's Pronghorn 8"
Used these for two elk hunts and numerous deer hunts. Put on a lot of miles! Would recommend for support and comfort. Tough made. Fairly good in wet conditions. Full review
Merrell Men's Phaserbound 2 Tall Waterproof
Nice, lightweight, and WATERPROOF. OK, so I was skeptical, but I couldn't walk away from the sale price. This was a bargain! Qualifying Background Info: I've run the gamut of name brand, off brand, high rise, low cut boots over these past 46 years of backpacking and trail hiking—everything from one-piece leather French SuperGuide boots to American made sneaker company attempts at boots. I also wear several different styles Merrell shoes to the office every day of the week. So, since Merrell makes… Full review
Lowa Camino GTX
I’ve found the Lowa Camino GTX to be sturdy, comfortable boots good for use on the toughest terrain. The Flex lacing system allows you to tailor the fit however you want it. Excellent support is provided by a firm midsole and thick leather uppers. The Vibram AppTrail sole gives excellent traction on most surfaces. Over Labor Day weekend of 2017 I went to the closest REI to replace my Asolo Fugitive GTX that had become too worn out for use in rough terrain. I decided I might as well try on some… Full review