Chuck Taylors might be flying through the big city on a jaunt, but when it’s time to hit the trails, you want the best men’s hiking shoes. A water bottle aside, nothing is more important to comfortably exploring the great outdoors than a solid pair of hiking shoes—tough enough to protect against the dirt, debris, rain, and stray bush you’ll encounter on a day in the wilderness. After all, the right boot and fit can mean the difference between an exhilarating experience and the endless agony of pinched toes and heel blisters.
Of course, not all hikes are created equal: some trails are flat, well-maintained, and free of debris, while others are steep and unforgiving. Whether you’re planning a leisurely stroll at a local state park or a week-long backpacking adventure through the Himalayas, we polled some of our favorite adventurers to find the best men’s hiking shoes that can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at her those. (And if you’re looking for women’s hiking shoes, here are our recommendations.)
This article has been updated with new information since the original publication date.
For leisurely day hikes
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II waterproof hiking shoes
Let’s get real. You like to hike, but you don’t love hike. Or maybe your friends are taking you on a big road trip this fall that will likely include some easy trails, so you need a solid boot that won’t break the bank. The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II is the shoe for you. It’s an affordable trail staple with all the necessary bells and whistles like waterproofing, great traction and mesh panels for optimal ventilation. The design is also much lighter than similarly priced Timberlands (less than a pound per boot) and comes in a wide range of sophisticated colors.
Keen Targhee III waterproof mid-cut hiking shoes
Keen’s dependable Targhee III offer some of the most desirable attributes in hiking shoes—water-resistant yet breathable leather construction, solid traction, and out-of-the-box comfort—at a lower price point than most other picks (especially nice when you are). new to the wandering game and not quite sure if you’re sticking with it). Of course, saved money means some sacrifices have to be made. For this shoe, that means less stability and ankle support compared to more advanced models. While we wouldn’t recommend taking this pair off-trail or on a week-long backpacking trip, it’s adequate for tackling moderate trails — say, what you’d find in most national parks.
Oboz Sawtooth X Low Wanderer
A flagship product from this popular Bozeman, Montana brand, the Oboz Sawtooth X has been on the market for 10 years and just keeps getting better with each new design. With its proprietary O FIT sockliner, adaptive cushioning technology, and superior slip resistance, the Sawtooth has managed to achieve both comfort and aggressive traction – two things you need when you’re putting in longer miles or tackling wet, rough trails. Planning a lot of creek crossings? The same design also comes in a slightly more expensive waterproof version.
Keen NXIS Speed Mid Sneaker
As the lightest hiker Keen has ever made, the NXIS Speed Mid has to live up to a lot of hype, but its unique blend of comfortable sneaker fit and technical trail features makes it a huge win for the hybrid hiker market. This boot features a wider toe box to make descending steep inclines a breeze (and pain free), as well as a padded tongue and ankle collar for friction-free support. Sure, the tread is just as grippy as Keen’s other basic shoes, but what really sets this shoe apart is its high-performance mesh material, which helps keep feet ventilated on hot summer hikes, much like your favorite tennis shoe.
For longer hikes and rough terrain
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid Gore-Tex hiking shoes
If you want to go big, you want a shoe that can handle muddy, technical terrain as well as training days on your local dusty fire road. La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX does just that. Don’t pay attention to its “futuristic and hardcore aesthetic,” says Sebastian Modak, Editor-at-Large at Lonely Planet; At just 16.5 ounces per shoe, this boot is light enough to handle long days in the mountains without feeling like you’re wearing ankle weights. “They’re remarkably light, yet waterproof, snug fitting and supportive. Sometimes I forget I’m not wearing trail runners until I make a misstep and the Ultra Raptor’s powerful support prevents me from rolling my ankle,” says Modak.
Vasque St. Elias Gore-Tex hiking shoes
Jersey City resident Bill Maloney successfully climbed Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak – wearing St. Elias Gore-Tex hiking shoes. “For an extended trip like Kilimanjaro, where you’re carrying a heavier backpack and you’re not sure what to expect in the rain, you need a full boot with good stability and a good sole – especially if you’re heading out just before the rainy season is saving money like me,” he says. This model’s all-terrain midsoles, rubber toe cap and waterproof Gore-Tex membrane stand up to the harshest conditions and reach above the ankle for added protection on long hikes.
Danner Light II hiking shoes
As Head of Brand Design for the outdoor-centric hip camp, Julian Bialowas turns to his trusty Danner Light II when he embarks on a tougher multi-day hike or knows he’s going to hit a few kilometers of gnarly trails on his day trip. Made from supple nubuck leather, extremely durable nylon and waterproof Gore-Tex lining, these boots are abrasion resistant and protect feet in both cold and wet environments. Although Danners are priced higher than some of our other picks, Bialowas mentions that they are built to last for years, especially if buyers use the brand’s recrafting service. “They are indefinitely repairable,” he says, “and last a lifetime to minimize waste.”
Scarpa Zodiac Plus Gore-Tex hiking shoes
Rough terrain is no match for the mountain-ready Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX, which is engineered to excel on and off the trail. The strong traction of a sturdy Vibram sole ensures a secure footing as you climb up or down rocks and steep slopes, the Gore-Tex lining keeps water out in snow and rain, and the suede upper and sturdy high ankle provide the much-needed support when you’re lugging a heavy backpack. Honestly, these boots are overkill if you’re just hiking moderate trails, but anyone planning to hike at higher elevations (or hit some snow) should try these.
Danner Mountain 600 hiking shoes
The Mountain 600 hiking shoe by Danner is a time-honoured design that offers style and holds its own on trails and mountains thanks to materials like a flexible Vibram sole, a waterproof lining and water-resistant suede. “Danner 600s give me all the durability and support of a trail hiking shoe, but are comfortable enough for stomping around the yard,” says Rich Seibert, who enjoys hiking on the Mohonk Reservation near his Hudson Valley home. While not as durable as more technical models, the Danner is perfect for hikers who want comfort out of the box, an aesthetic that looks just as good on the trail as it does off it, and generally sticks to leisurely hikes on well-groomed trails.
Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex hiking shoes
Although the Salomon Quest 4D is on par in terms of comfort, durability and waterproof design, it improves on the brand’s X Ultra shoe with a heavier, grippier outsole and advanced stability and ankle support, making it a great choice for tougher hikes where heavy backpacks have to be carried, such as New Zealand’s Routeburn Track. These boots aren’t made for your average neighborhood day hike, but they’ll carry you effortlessly through any serious expedition — off-trail hikes, steep climbs and descents, multi-day rides over mountain passes.
Trail runners and general purpose shoes
Merrell Moab 2 mid-weight waterproof hiking shoes
Avid hiker Daniel Gilligan has hiked everything from Mount Mansfield, Vermont, to Mount Hood, Oregon, in his trusty Merrells. “I’ve had the same hiking boots for ages. They are super durable and warm no matter how cold it is outside. I could hike in the snow for hours and never had a problem with cold or wet feet.” Merrell’s signature Moab series “mother of all boots” has stood up to the water thanks to its cozy, air-cushioned heels, grippy Vibram outsole and breathable, waterproof material and mud seals, proven for extra warmth and dryness no matter the season.
Hoka Speedgoat 5 trail running shoes
When we asked our favorite adventurers for their all-time favorite hiking shoes, Hoka as a brand always came up. Tyler “Mac” Fox, thru-hiker and founder of Halfway Anywhere, keeps a pair of Speedgoats handy because “they come in plus sizes, have great colors, and are surprisingly durable.” Meanwhile, author and adventurer Brendan Leonard loves them for everything from ultramarathons to ordinary day hikes. “They’re comfortable but not too squishy,” he says. The redesigned Speedgoat 5 is lighter and offers more traction than ever, making it an epic choice for loose dirt and steep, rocky trails.
Cairn 3D Adventure sandals
Sometimes the best hiking shoe isn’t a boot at all; it is a sandal. If you’re just going for a day hike or you’re looking for river-friendly shoes that won’t let you down on the trails around camp, Bedrock’s Cairn 3D Adventure sandal is a must for seasoned outdoor lovers. It offers a zero-drop design while still offering excellent arch support and grippy, durable Vibram soles. Bialowas says this is his top choice for anything that isn’t a multi-day backpacking trip. “They’re incredibly comfortable, have excellent support and stability, and allow you to really connect with your surroundings in a way that shoes and boots just can’t,” he says.
Altra Lone Peak All-Wthr Mid-Cut Hiking Shoes
As the number one shoe on infamous thru hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail, Altra’s Lone Peak Trail Runners are a proven favorite for many trekkers looking to rack up long miles without adding much weight to their feet. This all-weather mid design retains the same great features as the original—custom DuraTread outsoles, a wide toe box, and balanced cushioning in the heel and forefoot—while adding a weather-resistant bootie construction with a blister-free lace-up ankle support.