Upwardly Mobile: The 8 Best Hiking Shoes for Men

A set of hiking boots are for guys who want to drag their clunky clodhoppers up the hill. Trail running shoes are for those speed demons who don’t know when to slow down and smell the roses. And hiking sandals? Fun, sure, but a stubbed toe is more painful than a gunshot. At least, probably. What you need is a way to get enough lightness for easy movement on the switchbacks, but a little more bulk and protection than your average sneaker. That means you’re ready for a hiking shoe.

Shoes built for the trails are cut low for a little extra breathability and less heft than you’ll find with boots. They have more flex and bend, similar in many ways to approach shoes, though they aren’t ideal for rock climbing. Mostly these are made for people who like day hikes of all kinds or ultralight backpackers seeking to shed ounces. The mix of comfort, casual wear ability, and the ability to kick a little ass give hiking shoes a unique place in the hearts, and on the feet, of many mountain climbers. When you’re ready to dump the lbs., one of the 8 best hiking shoes for men will be waiting at the summit.

Evolv Cruzer

Evolv Cruzer

Pro: Tight, glove-like fit
Con: Thin and narrow

Low Rider: Imbued with the spirit of a rock-climbing shoe and advertised as an approach shoe, the truth is that this is the hiking option for the minimalist runner who wants to feel every root and tittle on the trail. The low drop insole is made of memory foam that cushions your foot and gives a better sense of what is underfoot than thicker options. A microfiber-lined canvas upper encloses the top of the foot and is comfortable to wear sockless. Fold down the heel and you have a hell of a camp shoe turned slipper for quick hops out of your tent at basecamp. [Purchase: $28+]

Scarpa Mystic Lite

Scarpa Mystic Lite

Pro: Easy tightening adjustment
Con: Limited traction in water and mud

Cool Customer: Hiking shoes tend to look just like their name implies. You aren’t going to be able to wear them out to dinner, or to the mayoral ball without drawing some raised eyebrows. The Mystic Lite believes that you shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice style just because you get your giggles during a climb. Italian designed, the suede upper has a little flair, but looks good at any casual gathering while the adherent Vibram outsole sticks like velcro to rock faces and crags. To round it out, a dual-density EVA midsole adds structure and a rubber toe rand enhances safety and grip. [Purchase: $48]

Keen Voyageur

Keen Voyageur

Pro: Eliminates hot spots and reduces blister formation
Con: Pyramidal lugs

Wet and Wild: Adept at handling rough terrain or rocky riverbeds, the Voyageur is made to go off the beaten path. A textile mesh upper works similar to Gore-Tex at guarding your feet from moisture, be it falling from the sky or immersing your shoe as you ford a creek. The mesh lining wicks away the sweat that your feet create to keep you dry throughout a harrying hike. Dual-density, compression molded EVA footbeds give you plenty of comfort underneath, and can be removed for cleaning or those runs when you want to feel every pebble in your path. [Purchase: $53+]

Merrell Moab

Merrell Moab

Pro: Comes in waterproof style
Con: Upper body susceptible to tearing on trying trails

In Circulation: Among the impressive lineup of Merrell shoes, the Moab is a standout, making it no surprise that this is their flagship product. Our favorite was the Ventilator model, since it gives you the breezy, carefree feel of a hiking sandal without leaving your feet exposed to the elements. On the exterior is a Vibram outsole for enhancing traction. It is backed up by an EVA midsole that is thick as hell without being an anchor. Moisture wicking mesh uppers allow for lots of airflow for enhanced comfort on hot days and to fight the foot funk of long hikes. [Purchase: $80+]

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

The North Face Ultra 109 GTX

Pro: Slim, agile toe box
Con: Wears out quickly

Hot Footer: Typically touted as a trail running shoe, there’s more to the Ultra 109 than you’ll get from the average runner’s foot gear. Inside is an ESS midfoot shank combined with a stiffer EVA midsole which adds in the strength and endurance of a hiking shoe with the fit and feel of a trail runner for greater dexterity should you want to race up the mountain. The base is very stable and has good torsional control for those rough patches when you can’t predict how your foot and ankle are going to land, especially at speed. [Purchase: $116+]

La Sportiva FC Eco 2 0 GTX

La Sportiva FC Eco 2.0 GTX

Pro: Casual, unassuming appearance
Con: Fit narrow and requires long breaking-in

Brawn and Bulk: Most of these shoes can handle day trips along basic trails, but backpacking is a whole other animal. You’re lugging around a lot of weight in addition to your usual body mass, and that changes how your footwear needs to perform. Despite the long, strange, acronym-laden name, the FC Eco 2.0 (OMG YOLO) is good at handling heft. Stiff leather uppers, a beastly shank, and hardy midsole veritably scream support and reinforcement. It fits like a boot without the same size or cut. Durable as kevlar and able to go for season after season, you’ll be happy you have this if lugging a light to moderate load in your hiking backpack out in the wild. [Purchase: $150]

Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX

Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX

Pro: Under two pounds
Con: Slim bottoms

Hi-Top: When you move away from hiking boots and into hiking shoes, one of the first things to go is the higher profile. As the tops drop, so too does the amount of ankle support. If you’re looking for the added comfort and injury-prevention of a boot cuff, the weight of a shoe, and the aggressive feel of a climber, then the Ultra Mid II is a dream given form. It’s built around an EVA midsole that is dense enough to be a boot, but thin enough to let you feel the trail. Contragrip rubber completes the outside with multi-directional lugs for handling rough trails overrun with scree. Just know that the retro style will garner a few “sweep the leg” jokes. [Purchase: $160+]

Meindl Respond GTX

Meindl Respond GTX

Pro: Excellent support
Con: Built like a general sports shoe

Casual Climber: Intended for general outdoor use, this is for the person who might be hiking, might be strolling, or could just be playing Ultimate Frisbee in the park. The upper is leather and Cordura complete with a waterproof membrane that can handle light wetness. You’ll get a very flexible sole, which prizes comfort over ability to withstand abuse, and it feels good whether climbing, biking, running, or just sauntering. Light and responsive, you’ll find it better for everyday wear than tackling tough terrain. [Purchase: $169]

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