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6 of the Best Hiking Shoes for 2024

From the volcanic peaks along the Pacific Crest Trail to the forests in the Rocky Mountains, going for a hike can be one of the most enjoyable and healthy ways to enjoy the outdoors. To keep the happiness level high, properly fitting trail shoes is one of the most important factors in enjoying the hike from start to finish.

Most hiking footwear offers ankle support, a roomy toe box, and traction. For its tried and true performance from one trail to another, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is our pick for best overall. These waterproof hiking shoes offer a targeted fit, breathable waterproof membrane, and endless grip.

In this guide, we’ve chosen hiking shoes that will fit the needs of a wide range of hikers from weekend warriors to backpack enthusiasts.

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Best Hiking Shoes for 2024

Best Overall: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

best-hiking-shoes
Image by Salomon

Specs:

  • Weight: 1 lb 9.6 oz (W), 1 lb 11.5 oz (M)
  • GORE-TEX waterproof membrane
  • Contagrip MA outsoles for foot control
  • SensiFit for a custom fit
  • ADV-C chassis for stability and flexibility

The Salomon X Ultra 4 is our top pick for the best overall hiking shoe. Coming in a gender-specific anatomical design, this shoe has softer materials and density particular to the age and sex of the wearer.

GORE-TEX protection means this waterproof hiking shoe will keep your feet dry from start to finish. With the durable All Terrain Contragrip Outsole, hikers can confidently tackle any surface. The quick SensiFit lace system is a fav for getting a custom fit to cradle the foot for support even with rough terrain.

The ADV-C Chassis adds flexibility for more mobility in the front and provides stability in the foot while pushing off and planting. Although we chose the waterproof version, these shoes come in non-waterproof, mid-height, and wide versions for fit and protection for a wide range of hiker needs.

Best Barefoot Feel: Xero Shoes Scrambler Low Hiking Shoes

best-hiking-shoes
Image by Xero

Specs:

  • Weight: 14.8 oz (W), 1 lb 2.4 oz (M)
  • Michelin Fiberlite sole for a natural feel
  • A natural fit with a wider toe box
  • Moisture-wicking lining

These lace-up and lightweight hiking shoes provide a natural fit with a wider foot-shaped toe box for miles of comfortable hiking. With a moisture-wicking lining and breathable mesh uppers, stinky feet are kept at bay, so you can focus on the view and not discomfort.

This is the perfect shoe for short to moderate-length dry hikes. In terms of a minimalist shoe, this one gives a more barefoot connected-to-the-earth feel. This lightweight hiking shoe containing Micheline Fiberlite offers wearers flexibility to push off naturally with each step.

Moisture-wicking lining keeps your feet dry and comfortable. With the zero-drop mountain bike-inspired treads for traction, these lightweight shoes can be used for all kinds of activities, including hitting the terrain on two wheels.

Best Budget: Merrell Moab 3

best-hiking-shoes
Image by Merrell

Specs:

  • Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (W), 2 lbs 2 oz (M)
  • Vibram TC5 outsole for cushioned traction
  • Air Cushion for shock absorption
  • Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed
  • Toe cap and rubber heel for extra protection

While more budget friendly, this capable hiking shoe can handle it all—from scenic routes to technical terrain. The Vibram TC5+ outsole offers superior traction, while the Air Cushion offers shock absorption for the downhills and traverses.

The leather upper makes these shoes wear and tear-resistant, while the multiple colorways add style. Stride naturally down the trail with the Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed that forms to the foot. Even with the low style, extra support is built into the ankle to keep the foot in place and stable with each step.

Hikers with wider feet will enjoy the roomier feel, while heel strikers will appreciate the design. More of a dedicated hiking shoe, the Moab 3 is a bit on the heavy side. This shoe comes in a GORE-TEX version for more wet weather hiking and a mid-length for support on longer hikes.

Best Comfort: Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX

best-hiking-shoes
Image by Hoka

Specs:

  • Weight 1 lb 8.8 oz (W), 1.79 lbs (M)
  • GORE-TEX membrane keeps feet dry
  • Breathable gold-certified nubuck leather
  • Sugarcane EVA midsole for max cushioning
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole for traction on varied terrain

When outdoors enthusiasts think of comfort, Hoka always comes to mind. The Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX is no exception. For long days on the trail or for those who love a cushiony feel, this is the best hiking shoe for you.

With a GORE-TEX membrane, these shoes will keep feet comfortable and dry from stream crossings to humid temperatures. The Vibram Megagrip outsole keeps you grounded wherever the path takes you. The Gold-certified nubuck leather uppers provide durability with improved breathability.

The sugarcane EVA midsole offers unparalleled comfort while also being lightweight. The achilles heel comfort build is icing on an already cushy ride. The abrasion-resistant top cap safeguards the forefoot. This style also comes in a mid version for more stability.

Best Crossover: Salewa Ultra Train 3

Image by Salewa

Specs:

  • Weight: 0.69 lb (W), 0.78 lb (M)
  • POMOCA outsole for traction in all conditions
  • Anti-Rock Heel Cup for protection and stability
  • OrthoLite footbed for moisture control and cushioning
  • Stretch gaiter keeps out dirt and rocks

Getting better with each version, the Salewa Ultra Train 3 gets our vote for best crossover hiking shoe for hiking, speed hiking, and as a trail running shoe. With the Motion Guidance technology, your feet will love the stability and support over varietal terrain, whether you want a hike or to pick up the speed.

The mesh upper allows for breathability, while the patented 3F system allows for flexibility, full foot support, and a glove-like fit. Arches, metatarsals, and the heel will appreciate the OrthoLite footbed. An Anti-Rock Heel Cup keeps the heel in the proper place, while the stretch gaiter at the tongue keeps out debris.

Wet conditions, a rocky trail—none of these are a problem for the POMOCA outsole. An aggressive lug pattern offers traction and grip no matter the trail surface. With reinforced TPU film at critical wear points, these shoes get high marks for durability and our pick for a versatile hiking shoe.

Best for Kids: Columbia Trailstorm

Image by Columbia

Specs:

  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Omni-Grip for superior traction
  • Toe bumper
  • Cinch cord laces for smaller sizes
  • TechLite midsole offers cushioning and comfort

From climbing boulders trailside to running down the hill, the Columbia Trailstorm offers adult-hiking-shoe features in a kid-size shoe with a more budget-friendly price tag. Superior traction with Omni-Grip means your little hiker can keep up with you, even on tougher terrain and wet conditions.

A bumper protects the toesies from rocks and roots. No more stopping to tie shoes on the trail with the simple cinch-cord lace system. The foot stays locked in place with the lacing and eyelet system for stability and blister-free days hitting the trails. The TechLite midsole absorbs impact while cushioning.

With a non-marking outsole, these shoes can be used for a variety of activities, even if the day takes you to the tennis or basketball court. The whole family can match with the Trailstorm, available in sizes from toddler to adult. Reviewers wish for more colorways and that the shoes were machine washable.

Tips for Buying Hiking Shoes

Many factors come into play when finding the right hiking shoes. Here are some key things to consider when making this purchase.

Fit

Fit is by far the most important factor when purchasing hiking shoes. A properly fitting hiking shoe will help you navigate a hike safely and injury-free. The correct size is essential, so plan to try shoes on in the store with hiking socks. Shoes should fit snugly with room in the toe box for toes to wiggle.

Support

Overall foot support, including arch support, is the key to any good hiking shoe. Low-profile hiking shoes will provide flexibility, while a higher-cut shoe offers more ankle support. Think about your hiking goals and desires, typical hike locations/terrain, and whether or not you will be backpacking.

Protective Features

Hiking shoes offer protective features—from waterproof uppers to full rubber toe cap protection. A heel box adds extra protection on rocky terrain, while waterproof uppers keep your feet dry and warm, preventing blisters and more.

Traction

The traction for hiking shoes will vary among brands and styles, but most shoes will feature soles meant for a variety of conditions. Choose the shoe with the right traction for the terrain you typically hike on. Durable rubber, outsole lug patterns, and multiple-direction treads offer great traction.

Weight

If you tend to enjoy shorter hikes or mix your hiking with some trail running, a lightweight hiking or trail running shoe is the best choice. If rocky trails and full-day hikes are more your wheelhouse, heavier hiking boots and trail running shoes will offer the best support and protection.

Breathability

Having breathable shoes is a must when logging miles. Look for shoes that have an abrasion-resistant mesh upper, especially for hot weather hikes. This will allow sweat to escape, keeping your feet drier when the temperature heats up.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking Shoes

How much can I expect to spend on a good hiking shoe?

The cost of hiking shoes will vary depending on the features, including if the shoe is waterproof. The more features, the heavier the price tag. By taking care of the shoes, you can expect years of use.

What is the difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe?

The biggest difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe is that hiking boots offer more ankle support. A hiking boot sits higher, covering the ankle, allowing more stability but less mobility. Hiking boots are often heavier than hiking shoes.

This article is a great reference point to help you choose.

What are the best materials and features for hiking shoes?

The best material and features for hiking shoes will vary based on personal preferences and needs. If you plan to hike in a variety of locations and terrains, maybe a GORE-TEX waterproof shoe is best. A rubber toe cap offers toe protection for trails with sharp rocks, while a heel cup keeps the foot in place.

Do I need to break in my hiking shoes?

Like any shoe, there is a break-in period for hiking shoes. Wear your hiking shoes around the house, for short walks around the neighborhood, or even to do some errands. This will help take away some of the stiffness and discomfort of new shoes before you hit the trails.

Can my hiking shoes be used for other outdoor activities?

Whether you purchase backpacking footwear or shoes more for day hiking, the shoes can typically be used for other activities off trail. Some of these activities include gardening and outdoor work, neighborhood walks, trail running, and more.

How do I care for my hiking shoes?

Each manufacturer provides care instructions for their shoes, and the instructions will vary based on the materials the shoes are made from. To keep shoes lasting for many hikes, be sure the shoes are dry before storage, clean off debris after each hike, store properly, and treat them, if waterproof.

Final Thoughts: Best Hiking Shoes

Although you can wear running shoes to hike many simple trails, hiking footwear will offer many more features to keep you safe for miles, even with uneven terrain. Most hiking shoes offer toe protection, will keep your feet warm but not too warm, and have a sticky rubber outsole for more rugged terrain.

Hiking-specific shoes, whether you are looking for a backpacking boot, a low-cut hiking boot, or one for day hiking, are designed to support and protect the feet. Men’s hiking shoes and women’s hiking shoes will differ because of autonomy, so it is best to find the shoe that fits your gender-specific needs.

Overall, the best hiking shoes are the ones that get you to and from the trailhead safely. While other hiking footwear offers great features, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX get top marks for support, traction, durability, and breathability, even with a GORE-TEX membrane.

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