TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
Hiking is arguably one of life’s greatest pleasures. That’s because there’s no better way to explore the world around you and the great outdoors that it presents than by pulling on a pair of proper hiking boots and heading over or down the hills.
Unfortunately, the unpleasant prospect of having to deal with painful blisters after a few hours and miles, and the drench from your sweating feet is ultimately enough to put off even the most ardent hikers.
This is basically why everyone should and must go for appropriate hiking boots. But how do you get to choose an appropriate hiking boot? This is a question that many people can’t answer correctly.
Well, choosing the right hiking boots is almost akin to a matchmaking process.
That’s because your dream hiking boots should perfectly match and sync with how and where you hike. So before tying the knot, it’s important to make sure you and your chosen hiking boots are a perfect fit.
Hiking boots no longer have to be stiff, burly and macho. If anything, they should be versatile and available for both men and women.
They should offer you utmost comfort, excellent performance on the trails and make hiking a lot more fun.
There’s no doubt that hiking boots are the most critical gear to any hiker. Unlike poor hiking boots that will have you gnawing with every step, having the right pair will have you gliding down the trail with a smile on your face. So, here are some of the things to know before investing your money in a pair of hiking boots.
Hiking adventures have two types of footwear: hiking boots and hiking shoes. It’s important to know the difference and be aware of what you’re going for. Hiking boots are full-sized footwear that are designed to offer stability, support (ankle support), comfort and protection. Differently, hiking shoes aren’t designed to offer the same ankle support as hiking boots.
Instead, they’re designed to offer agility and are more like running shoes, but with better grips and durability. With that in mind, hiking boots should be a great option for those who love the wilderness and are likely to cover tiring miles of trails on rocky, muddy, watery, snowy and steep terrains. On the other hand, hiking shoes may be a great option for those who prefer short walks and not in need of much ankle support.
It’s advisable to select your hiking boots based on the terrain you’ll frequently hike on and the loads you’re likely to carry. For instance, it would be okay to go for mid-cut or low-cut boots if you’re planning to hike on easy trails while carrying light or no backpacks. On the other hand, you should choose ankle-high hiking boots if you’re planning to venture into aggressive and rough trails.
Similarly, you’ll appreciate hiking boots with full-grain leather, ankle-high support, excellent traction and rigid sole stability if you’re planning for off trails goaded with alder twists and endless talus such as mountain terrains. Again, you should consider your climate. Are you going to hike during the rainy or snowy season or during hot climate? Do you need waterproof boots or breathable ones?
Being engulfed with painful blisters, sprained arches, blackened toes, plantar fasciitis and bone spurs among other injuries are enough to convince any hiker that the right fit is of great importance in hiking boots. In addition to buying the right kind of socks (not so thick and not so thin), you should always choose a hiking boot that feels ultimately right for your foot size.
You should buy hiking boots that are a little larger than your normal shoes. The boots should also not have narrow toe box as this will cramp your toes. The fact that a lot of hiking boots come in standard, narrow and wide sizes should work to your advantage. Other things to consider when choosing hiking boots include: weight, ample padding (to prevent cutting), soft insole (to prevent friction and blisters), waterproof, breathable features, traction and grip features and perfect laces.
You should therefore know your size, spend some time in the boots while still in the store and perhaps walk down and up the stairs to fully feel their impacts. You can as well go for aftermarket insoles if they can augment comfort, support and fit. So without eating much into your precious time with our boring’ details, let’s dive straight into the best hiking boots of 2018.
In choosing these boots, we tasked the efforts of our shoe experts to analyze over 70 pairs. After putting them under rigorous tests, we concluded that the following ten hiking boots should be on top of your priority list should you decide to go for hiking boots now or in the future. For the ladies, worry not; you’re in the right place because we’ve got you covered.
Every boot on this list not only offers men models but also women models. At the end of it, you’ll all be good to go for the much-needed hiking adventure.
|Name of the Product||Weight||Best For|
|Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX||1lb||long distance|
|Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX||2lb||rough terrain|
|Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX||3lb 4oz||walking|
|Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi Waterproof||4lb||short distances|
|Vasque St. Elias GTX||5lb||most comfortable|
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||6lb 2oz||wet terrain|
|Keen Targhee II Mid||7lb||dry terrain|
|Tecnica Forge GTX||8lb||hot weather|
|Vasque Saga GTX||9lb||cold weather|
|Keen Targhee III Mid||10lb||durability|
Salomon has been in the game of manufacturing walking boots and shoes for many years to know that hiking boots have to be comfortable, durable and waterproof. The French maestros have consistently produced great trekking footwear and their new Quest 4D 3 GTX perfectly suits this description and represents exactly what the footwear company stands for.
It may look fairly down-to-earth, but it’s still a cutting-edge and waterproof future-chic hiking boots that’s proper even for the toughest of excursions.
When putting on the Quest 4D 3 GTX for the first time, you’ll instantly realize that this is a serious boot that’s designed with technologies to offer walking comfort to the user and lessen fatigue during hiking and backpacking trips.
This is possible thanks to its high collar and solid lacing system that not only hold your foot in place but also has a very generous padding around the ankle to make it very comfortable.
The 4D in its name refers to Salomon’s sole and advanced chassis tech and high traction contagrip. This is crucial in guiding the foot and allowing for more forefoot flexion.
The upper part of the boots is made of an abrasion-resistant textile with a membrane that’s waterproof yet breathable. As a 3rd iteration of this boot, the Quest 4D 3 GTX remains progressive by offering models for both men and women.
Women will love it because it’s lightweight and comes at 575g and in an average size for them. This doesn’t mean that men’s models are heavy, they’re also light at 640g and comes both in average, regular and wide sizes.
Even though the Quest 4D 3 GTX has high traction contagrip with lizard-like grips, as well as a dual-density Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) unit, which is meant to offer motion control and stability to the wearer, it lacks the much-needed stability. It’s actually not good for very steep hills and snowy terrains.
The Salomon Quest boots have been among the best hiking boots for years and continues to maintain these standards with the Quest 4D 3 GTX. Its shape, features, innovation and other smaller but very crucial details such as toe protection and rubber heels are trailblazing.
This boot offers a range of models for both men and women, especially with its weight and various colorways. The technology used on its outsole, midsole and upper parts are aggressive and effective for just about any terrain. This is a boot that you should call upon for your hiking quests, whether technical or scrambling trails.
You’ll be absolutely happy wearing this boot as long as weather forecasts aren’t foretelling a very hot climate.
Putting the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX on a gamut of terrains and conditions ranging from rock, mud dirt and snow always feel like nothing because it will pass every test modestly and without much hullabaloo.
This is a hiking boot that knows exactly what a hiking boot should do: offer comfort, hold the foot securely in place and protect against slippage, friction, blisters or injuries.
The Zodiac Plus GTX is a lightweight boot yet offers full support when handling long mileage days with heavy loads. This is a mid-weight hiking boot that’s designed to offer support, comfort and flexibility required to overcome unbelievable mountain terrains.
It’s constructed with stiffness and extends above the ankle to offer added support. In fact, the Sock-Fit lets it be laced firmly without creating any constriction or bulk, thus making it very comfortable.
This hiking boot is designed with Vibram Drumlin soles that provides tremendous traction and agility even on the sloppiest of routes and terrains. This is perhaps the most impressive feature of this hiking boot.
The rubber rand around the toe box is essential in providing extra protection to the fore foot and the EVA-molded midsole is crucial in providing feet protection in uneven grounds. That’s not all; this boot is also made of water-resistant textile and GTX liner that still allow for breathability.
At 1 pound 3.2 ounces for men and 445g 16 ounces for women, you can bet your money on the fact that it’s lighter than most mid-weight hiking boots.
In fact, both men and women will love it as it offers a perfect combination of both performance and comfortable weight, with no room for slippage in the heel even when going down the steepest of slopes.
The fact that Scarpa is an Italian company means a lot: the boot takes pride in the company’s craftsmanship and is built with quality all-round.
Like any other Gore-Tex (GTX) product on this list, the Zodiac can get pretty hot and sweaty during hot weather trails.
The suede hue on the upper part of the boot is also prone to absorbing unattractive dust quite fast thereby making the boots appear older than they really are.
It’s also important to note that the EVA unit in the midsole is not durable enough and may wear out faster than other parts of the boot.
The Zodiac Plus GTX is one of those hiking boots made for both men and women who spend days, weeks, months or even years scrambling through the wilderness and some of the unforgiving trails.
This is a reliable, comfortable and flexible hiking boot made to perfectly fit in any type of terrain. If you’ve been using boots that leave you with blisters and sweaty feet after hours or hiking, you should consider shifting to the Zodiac Plus GTX.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to keep in mind that they can get really hot and uncomfortable when the weather is extremely warm.
From an appearance point of view, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is modest if not a little dull. However, you’ll realize that its damn comfortable as soon as you slide it into your feet.
Released in late 2017, the French shoemaker stuck to the original script that has been a feature in Salomon hiking boots and only included little tweaks in line with the current lacing system and traction technology.
The first feature that will likely hit you when you slip it on is the feeling of a properly supportive running shoe. It offers utmost comfort with its lightweight design, flexibility, as well as the nice padding in the collar and tongue area. In essence, it’s comfortable on the feet even for long hikes with or without a fully-loaded backpack.
You’ll be awarded quite handsomely for choosing this boot if you want to hike on downhill or on flat and rough terrains since it’s inspired to be an aggressive hiking boot. Perfect for both men and women, the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is designed to feel like a running/hiking shoe in the sense that it comes at a very comfortable weight for both men and women models and has a gill-like solid rubber sole that’s cutout to bite and grip into the ground, therefore protecting you from slipping.
As another GTX model on this list, this boot is waterproof and breathes relatively well so as to prevent your feet from steaming when involved in high activities. Unlike many hiking boots, the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX has a perforated Ortholite insole that’s effective in promoting the circulation of air underfoot and will keep your feet cool even in hot weather.
Its Quicklace System is essential in keeping them tight and in offering great lateral stability with the Kevlar laces easily sliding through the four eyelets.
The X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is laced up with loads of features that propels it to this list. Regrettably, its durability is questionable and may not serve you for a very long time, especially if you’re often involved in hauling heavy backpacks or hiking in technical terrains.
Forget about being comfortable and stable; every hiking boot on this list offers those features. The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is a well thought out hiking boot that offers incredible and innovative technologies such as Quicklace System and perforated Ortholite insole to allow for air circulation even during hot hikes.
For the ladies or fashion-conscious individuals, this hiking boot won’t be much of a fashion statement, but will not be a bad place to start, especially if durability is the last thing on your list of priorities.
To be very honest with you, Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi Waterproof is looking funny if not crazy, but that’s besides the real story. As a company, Hoka One One is known for making extremely high quality running shoes and seems hell-bent on bringing the same to the hiking industry with its latest addition.
You probably have never heard about this hiking boot until now, but it’ll not disappoint you. Upon the first viewing, you’ll immediately realize that it’s a BIG boot; a feature that’s characterized by its heavily lugged Vibram MegaGrip outsole.
You may wrongly assume that this boot is heavy but you’ll soon admit that it’s super lightweight; perhaps lighter than traditional hiking boots, and perfect for both men and women. The Tor Ultra Hi Waterproof is incredibly versatile and can actually perform in just about any given condition.
This is because it’s laced up with a number of technology and inventiveness that will make you fall in love with it almost instantly. Imagine the full-grain leather and textile overlays and eVent full bootie waterproof membrane, to name just but a few. These are features that make it excellently waterproof just as the name suggests.
It’s also breathable and has high traction for proper grip and stability, all while remaining delightful, fancy, durable and able to put in an extraordinary performance across all the terrains.
Forget about its funny look or revolutionary features; you need to have deep pockets to afford this hiking boot. The bright color may perhaps be a hit with fashion-conscious men and women, but may be an instant turnoff if you’re one of the reserved types who want to go on with their hiking activities in a low-key manner.
You’ll have to forget about the funny-looking feature and color of the Ultra Hi Waterproof boot for a moment and acknowledge that this is a hiking boot that combines some of the best technology currently available in the shoe game.
It offers a hybrid that can be used as a hiking shoe while still remaining a hiking boot. Its price may be overboard, but it’s worth going for if you want something that’ll put in extraordinary performances across any kind of terrain without much fuss.
Probably the lightest Vasque hiking boot to date, the Vasque St. Elias GTX is going modern by shedding weight as much as it can while still maintaining its traditional rugged look that Vasque boots are universally known for.
Much like its many predecessors, the St. Elias can lay strong claims to being modern, comfortable, durable and waterproof. Built with light materials not just to make it lightweight but also to enhance performance, this hiking boot is designed with a high-quality nubuck leather, which is a top-of-the-pile cattle leather that has been sanded and buffed to make it stiff, stable and resistant to tear and wear in any environment.
The toe section is molded with a rubber over-layer, which is essential in offering extra protection. In terms of comfort, the St. Elias has an ankle collar that’s soft and flexible in right places and is structured to make the entire leg feel protected.
It’s also designed using Vibram Frontier sole to give it high traction and sturdy grip whether in muddy, slippery slopes or rocky trails. As mentioned earlier, this is one of the lightest Vasque products, which makes it perfect not just for men but also for women hikers.
That’s not all; this hiking boot is breathable and waterproof thanks to its Gore-Tex liner and EVA foam insole that’s removable and makes it optimal in almost every hiking situation and condition.
While some may point out that its lacing system is excellent, this is far from the truth if you take into account that they get ripped off easily by the metallic eyelets. In essence, you should consider replacing the stock laces with a pair of different laces. Another noticeable issue with this boot is in its sizing. It’s very, very narrow and can be quite hectic and uncomfortable for people with wider feet. Lastly, you’ll have to prepare yourself to treat its permeable leather, which looks pretty bad when discolored.
Great boots are highly popular and the Vasque St. Elias GTX certainly fall under this category. It presents the user with out-of-the-box comfort, which is great for both men and women, but you’ll have a hell of a day finding one that fits best if your feet are wide. Nonetheless, this is a solid hiking boot that’s perfect for certain terrains. You’d want to consider it if its discoloring leather and laces aren’t your biggest issues.
If you’re a big fan of those movies that involve hiking scenes, you’ve probably and unknowingly seen the Lowa hiking boots on your screen since they’re so popular even movie directors and actors can’t ignore them. For more than 90 years, the European shoemaker has been crafting incredible hiking boots that pays a very keen attention to every detail, and the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a proof of this tradition.
As a signature hiking boot model for the Lowa brand, the Renegade GTX Mid is an absolute beast that’s easy on the eye and on your feet. You’ll be impressed with the comfort that it provides straight away.
Designed with a climate controlled footbed, this gives this hiking boot the capability to wick away moisture and heat from your feet, thereby leaving your feet comfy. This is also crucial in discarding friction and the blisters that comes with it. Designed with nubuck leather on the upper part, the nylon shank and the monowrap midsole technology, these features are essential in providing stability and the much-needed ankle protection.
It doesn’t stop there; this boot has an exterior Gore-Tex membrane to make it waterproof and the Vibram EVA outsole to offer excellent grip on various terrains. It’s important to mention that the Renegade isn’t exclusive to men! The same model exists for women and comes in different colors to add the icing on an already sumptuous boot.
You shouldn’t be duped into believing that the Renegade would be an absolute beast in all terrains. Well, that’s because it’s not suitable for tough winter conditions and may only be appropriate for light hiking adventures.
To stand out as a signature hiking boot in a company that has a long and illustrious history as Lowa speaks volume of the quality of the Renegade GTX Mid. It’s true that every foot is unique and specific, but the Renegade is one of those boots that will never disappoint. It’s built with lots of attention to detail and will always feel at home on rocky peaks and trails.
As one of the top-selling hiking boots, the Keen Targhee II Mid features a thoroughly modernized design that makes this traditionally lightweight hiking boot even better. The Targhee boots have been a hiking powerhouse for several years and still maintains among the best with the Targhee II Mid, even though the Targhee Mid III is already on the shelves.
Arguably the best hiking boot for wide and high-volume feet, the Targhee II Mid is built for stability and durability, without compromising on its comfort. The removable Metatomical dual density EVA footbed may sound technical, but it’s anatomically engineered to provide impeccable support while smoothly and softly cradling the natural contours of the foot all the way to the ankle. This feature also acts as a durable shock absorber so as to protect you from the impacts of the uneven trails.
Again, the collars of the Targhee II are thick and padded to provide extra support and protection to the ankle while the KEEN.DRY technology is in hand to ensure that it remains waterproof and breathable.
The lacing system of five eyelets lock around the heel of the boot to hold your heel in the heel cup, thereby providing stability and flexibility in conjunction with the Torsion Stability ESS shank. This boot’s traction feature doesn’t stand out in any terrain as it’s made of a non-marking rubber sole. Nonetheless, it holds well in muddy slopes and wet granite than most traditional sole designs.
The fact that the Targhee II sole isn’t marked downgrades its capabilities on rocky peaks and is a letdown in an otherwise proper hiking boot. Its laces may also be a problem, but Keen is reputed for sending free ones should you have problems with your current ones. Last but not least, it’s important to note that the Targhee II boots for men are only available in standard size with no narrow or wide feet options.
The Salomon Quest boots have been among the best hiking boots for years and continues to maintain these standards with the Quest 4D 3 GTX. Its shape, features, innovation and other smaller but very crucial details such as toe protection and rubber heels are trailblazing. This boot offers a range of models for both men and women, especially with its weight and various colorways. The technology used on its outsole, midsole and upper parts are aggressive and effective for just about any terrain.
This is a boot that you should call upon for your hiking quests, whether technical or scrambling trails. You’ll be absolutely happy wearing this boot as long as weather forecasts aren’t foretelling a very hot climate.
Unlike any other hiking boots ever seen in the hiking boots market, the Tecnica Forge is miles ahead of the rest in integrating a technology that’s new in the world of hiking while still holding true to the hiking boots tradition.
Tecnica may be a ski boot manufacturer, but the way it has designed its first hiking boot is a clear indication that the company will soon disrupt the hiking boots industry.
Designed using a Custom Adaptive Shape (CAS) technology that’s common in ski boots, the Forge is the first fully customizable hiking boot. In other words, every part of this hiking boot is designed for customization. This technology allows heel pockets, ankle areas and the arch to be heated and molded not only of every specific foot but also for utmost comfort. This is crucial in eliminating fitting issues that’s synonymous with hiking boots.
At the end of the customization process, your boots will be more supportive around the ankle, while still offering the much-needed room for the toes. That’s not all; the Forge uses Vibram for the outsole, which has reversed lugs to augment its traction and grip with an inner EVA foam that acts as a shock absorber and prevents your feet from trail impacts. Its upper part is made with the durable nubuck leather and is made even better with the thin and durable Kevlar laces.
Even though the Forge has a lot of unique elements and features, you’ll have the inconvenience of having to find an in-store fitting, which may not be currently possible with the technology still in its infancy. In other words, you won’t be able to buy them online and will have to personally sit on one of the 37 heat-molding machines available in few authorized Tecnica stores around the world. Again, this boot doesn’t come cheap and will set you back a cool $620 minus the traveling expenses.
As the first moldable hiking boot, the Forge encourages a shift back to the classic days when fitting had to be done or attended in person (long before the internet became a thing). It’s set to change the world of hiking boots with this impressive technology. For now, getting your hands on one seems like a long shot if you do not live near any authorized Tecnica store with a heat-molding machine. If you do, then you must be willing and able to spend a pretty penny on this futuristic hiking boot.
In maintain the company’s hiking boots tradition, the Vasque Saga GTX is an attractive hiking boot that literally causes a saga with its heavily engineered features and exorbitantly high price.
With a 2mm nubuck leather on the upper parts that’s combined with Gore-Tex lining and mesh textile, the Vasque Saga is waterproof and breathable. Add this to a rubber toe area and heel guards with built-in ventilation ports and you’re darn sure that blisters caused by friction will be a thing of the past.
For stability, this boot is sturdy on the inside edge and relies heavily on the All-Terrain Compound midsole that’s combined with a plastic shank to offer a lot of flexibility whilst limiting torsional twisting. The boot is designed with gusseted tongue to offer best fit and utmost comfort by limiting how wide the mouth of the boot can open.
While this may be a drawback, you’ll realize just how comfy the boot feels on your foot. This also prevents the heel from lifting while still offering enough room for toes, especially on downhill trails. This boot is also well-padded around the ankle area to offer excellent support and comfort. Lastly, you’ll be pleased with the Vibram MegaGrip sole, which has a sharp edge and large lugs that are meant to provide steady grip and high traction.
Despite the fact that it is heavily engineered and packed with lots of technology, this boot is super expensive at $400. The narrow opening also makes it difficult to put them on.
The Vasque Saga is a highly attractive three-season hiking boot that’s built to provide you with absolute comfort, protection and stability. Even though it’s a solid choice, the price is exorbitant and could be much better if the opening was a little wider.
Released in late 2017, the Targhee III Mid is the newest generation of the Keen hiking boots that are popular among hikers and backpackers for their budget-oriented performance and outstanding value.
The Targhee III retains the high level of comfort and build quality of its predecessors including the Targhee II Mid. It will require little to no break-in period on the feet, which is a rare occurrence in hiking footwear. It may not be as roomy as the Targhee II, but it’s still comfortable and easy on the feet, thanks to its flexibility on the upper parts.
The use of ESS shank also plays a great role in enhancing comfort while the ample cushioning around the ankle mitigate any pressure that might be exerted on the ankle bones. The well thought out lacing system found in previous Keen models also make an appearance on the Targhee III. This is essential in offering cinching options and stability that’s needed in rough terrains and when carrying a heavy backpack.
At 2 pounds 2.8 ounces, the Targhee III feels light on the foot, which is essential in ensuring that the wearer doesn’t suffer from fatigue that’s a normal occurrence in heavy hiking boots. In terms of traction and grip, the Targhee III is designed with in-house rubber outsoles with multi-dimensional lugs to make it gripper whilst ensuring that the sole doesn’t get clogged with mud. Again, the in-house KEEN.DRY technology offers a waterproof membrane to ensure that water or rain isn’t an issue. This works together with the Gore-Tex liner to offer breathability and keep moisture out of your feet.
While the availability of the Gore-Tex liner is essential in enhancing breathability, it’s definitely not the best and you’ll be dealing with heat problems during warm weather. Its stability is also not one of the best and can perform better on easy or moderate trails while underperforming in rocky or steep terrain.
The Vasque Saga is a highly attractive three-season hiking boot that’s built to provide you with absolute comfort, protection and stability. Even though it’s a solid choice, the price is exorbitant and could be much better if the opening was a little wider.
Choosing the right hiking boots is not a breeze in the park. There are a lot of things to consider before investing in one. Features such as perfect fit, comfort, stability, protection, durability, support and high traction should be on your mind when choosing the right hiking boots. We know that you’re busy and probably don’t have enough time to go through every hiking boot in the market.
To save you from all that hassle, we went to great lengths to do exactly that and present you with the best hiking boots of 2018 as presented above. Now that you’ve decided your perfect pair of hiking boots, its perhaps the right time to go for them, pack your backpack, lace up and hit the trail for your hiking adventure! After all, choosing the right pair is the hardest part, getting out and enjoying the best that nature has to offer should now never be a problem.
Other Posts You Might Like