Our pioneering and adventuring ancestors used to use simple footwear when they would climb a mountain. That is the likely reason that they are all dead now. We are still alive because we use the best in durability and comfort technology when it comes to the footwear we use for strolling, moseying, scrambling, and trekking up mountains. It has kept us alive thus far, and unless you want your children to grow up without a parent you’ll follow this trend.
Technically you can hike up a mountain with whatever happens to be on your feet, but it isn’t wise. When we looked at hiking boots we tried to consider everything: High tech climbing boots that let you rock hop and scale as much as walk. Reinforced boots that let you move silently when going after high-altitude game. Waterproof boots that won’t give you what scientists call “soggy foot.” We’ve even thought about how pretty they are so that the other climbers don’t ditch you at the summit social. After much testing (and some hopping around like we just stepped on a Lego), we offer you the 5 best hiking boots.
Salomon Men’s Quest 4D GTX
Best All-Around: This is technically a backpacking boot, but in this case it’s equally good for day hikes and trekking on easy trails. The dual tension mechanism is what helps make it truly spectacular for extended wear. You can adjust the tightness around your ankle while not crushing your foot and vice-versa. The body is leather while the soles are a slip-proof rubber textile that will give you traction even when crossing the smooth rocks of a streambed.
Since these are meant for extended wear they are slightly heavier than some of your other choices, so if you need something that longs to be a trail shoe or have a weak back, you might find these to be a little more boot than your body can handle. The gusseted tongue is good at keeping out debris and the waterproofing will work well, though some have complained that it wears out with time. The Gore-Tex body is relatively breathable, though probably won’t be springtime fresh after a day out on the trail. [Purchase: $172]
Asolo Men’s TPS 520 GV Boot
Long Life: These are unapologetic leather boots that would make your daddy proud. They cost a little more, but they last long enough to be cheap at twice the price. The most impressive part is that as rugged as they are on the outside, on the inside your tootsies are as comfy as if they were taking a spa day. Adventurers who can’t have a boot that will fall apart after years of use and want to be able to break in a pair once and then forget about it, the TPS 520 is made for you.
Not only is your foot comfortable inside these boots, but the rocker sole interior means that they will be well supported to reduce fatigue and strain. They manage to keep the weight down, but they are still a heavy leather boot, so you’ll damn sure know you’re wearing them, they just won’t cause undue discomfort or strain, even if you’re on the trail all day. The waterproofing is one of the best on the market. The style is 100% boot with none of that poly-dandy-whatsit some of them fancy French boys are wearing. [Purchase: $270]
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid
Hard-Scrabble Only: The first thing to note about the Mountain Trainer is the stiff sole will make it murder on your feet if you intend on doing any casual walking for long distances. If you’re a weekend warrior, this is not for you since you’ll rapidly get shock fatigue on your knees and back ambling up a gentle mountain path. On the other hand if you like to climb rock tumbles, take the hard road, skip the switchbacks, and really go balls to the wall up a cliff, then strap in to a pair of Mountain Trainers.
For a rocky terrain boot, this choice is surprisingly light thanks to the synthetic body with leather outlays. The bottom bears all of the weight with rubber that wraps around the entire lower body so that even if you catch and edge in your instep, it won’t dig through. This rubber bottom adds great waterproofing, though saturating the whole boot will still get you a bit damp. The Gore-Tex is good, not flawless. You’ll get a comfortably high ankle that will give you 3F support at any angle. [Purchase: $214]
Columbia PeakFreak Enduro Mid
Trail Shoe Hybrid: These are more than your beat-up sneakers, but they’re certainly not for taking an excursion to the 14ers in the rockies. They’re more than just a plain trail shoe. As far boots that are built for hiking are concerned, these are some of the lightest available. That isn’t to say they sacrifice in stiffness. They have a TPU shank built in so that you can take on some off-road adventures. The entire feel is like an old glove as it wraps your foot in supportive goodness.
These are very breathable so adding some speed to a hike is certainly on the table. They are also comfortable and stylish enough that you can wear them around day to day without feeling like a lumberjack. The body is waterproof and thanks to the open-air design, they dry out quickly so fungi will never have a chance to gain a foothold – pun gloriously intended. Go ahead and add trail running to your workout repertoire or take the path less traveled with these. [Purchase: $113]
Under Armour UA Speed Freek
On the Hunt: They look like tactical boots but wear like some of the hardiest hiking boots available. These are serious about letting you stalk your prey over hill and dale without ever causing any undue stress on your feet. The push-through keeps you protected across rough terrain without adding excessive weight that will tire you out during a long hunt. The interior is memory foam so that like most Under Armour products, it fits like a second skin giving you flexibility, support, and cushioning in all the right places.
As the name suggests, they are lightweight for quick stepping and being able to get in close for a kill without sounding like a stampede. The midsole is EVA which helps cushion your foot and absorb shocks whether walking over rocks or dropping from a height. The interior is designed to wick moisture away from your foot while simultaneously keeping water out. The exterior overlay is pure pigskin leather that is supple, protective, and helps keep the elements off your foot. [Purchase: $170]
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