If you’ve ever spent any time seriously hiking the trails, gullies and mountain ridges of the world you know that your most important allies are your hiking shoes. And that’s true whether you’re tackling boulder fields, hardscrabble trails above tree-line or some of the wider, better groomed trails in our National Parks. If the shoes you’re wearing into the wild aren’t up to the task you’re going to tire more easily, be susceptible to cramps and blisters and set yourself up for twisted ankles and an array of more serious injuries.
Modern hiking shoes can trace their origins to the aftermath of World War I when weary Europeans began to focus their attention on leisure activities. Early hiking shoes were heavy, leather affairs that were of very little use when they got wet. Over time hiking shoes began to incorporate different materials and fabrication methods. But while waterproof fabrics have been around for some 250 years it wasn’t until the late 1970s and the invention of Gore-Tex that the kind of hiking shoes we have today became possible.
The 10 hiking shoes we’re going to review here have all proven their mettle on your trek. So, without further ado let’s get started.
Top Hiking Shoes In 2018 (Our Picks)
1. Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 GTX
The Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking Shoes bear more than a passing resemblance to running shoes and that’s the way it should be. This shoe will propel you up the trail as well as any other on the market. It features a proprietary fitting scheme they call “Sensifit” that holds your foot firmly from all directions without every crimping or cramping. This snug fit then allows the other aspects of the design to work their magic. The EVA midsole, high traction Contagrip outsole and molded shank all combine to get the most from every step and the Gore-Tex shell provides a high degree of flexibility and true waterproofingso you can skip through those puddles without a care.
You’ll love the way these hiking shoes feel both when you slip them on and, more importantly, after several hours on the trail. Other features include a protective rubber cap over the toe, a gusseted tongue and lightweight construction to eliminate boot fatigue. You’ll pay less for some other good hiking shoes but you won’t find measurably better low-cut hiking shoes than the Saloman X Ultra 2 GTX.
- ModelX ULTRA 2 GTX®-M
- Weight4 lb
2. Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
Merrell have finally released a successor to their wildly popular Moab hiking shoes and judging by both feel and performance the nearly 10 year wait was worth it. The Moab 2 is every bit as light as the original and perhaps a bit more comfortable as well, especially after hours on the trail. This is a shoe that feels like silk right out of the box. No 2-week breaking in period full of blisters and muffled curses. Just unbox these puppies, slip them on and you’re ready to go. You won’t be weighed down by these good hiking shoes either as the pair tips the scale at just under 2 pounds, which is slightly better than most competitors.
As for traction the company has decided that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and stayed the course with the same Vibram sole as was found in the original; which of course means that stability and support are excellent. Waterproofing is excellent in general with the caveat that these are low-riders so any creek crossing better include plenty of dry rock surfaces. All in all the Moab 2 hiking shoes live up to their predecessor’s lofty reputation and as long as you stay clear of the non-waterproof option you’ll be happy as a clam.
- ModelMOAB 2 WTPF-M
3. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX
In spite of the fact that the North Face name has been diluted by over-licensing they still produce some outdoor products that live up to the outstanding reputation the company first established several decades ago. Their Men’s Ultra 109 GTX hiking shoes are one such product. This is a fine all weather hiking shoe that will impress both with comfort and durability. The 109 GTX require a minimal break-in time and are so light you’ll likely forget you have them on; which is the biggest compliment you can give a shoe like this.
The waterproofing is effective. Or at least as effective as it can be on low-cut hiking shoes; which means it’s great for jumping shallow puddles but stay clear of the streams and creeks. If you do wind up submerging the shoe though it does a commendable job of drying out in a hurry. The rubber sole is responsive rather than unforgiving, the mesh in the upper portion of the shoe is comfortable and one reason they dry so fast and the EVA midsole does a good job of keeping your feet on the straight and narrow when the terrain wants them to go all sideways. The Ultra 109 GTX hiking shoes fall in the middle price wise and are well worth the money.
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight2.3 lb
4. Adidas Terrex Fast R Gore-Tex
Adidas put everything they have into their Outdoor Terrex Fast R Hiking Shoes and the results are impressive. The Terrex are lightweight hiking shoes that are tough and supportive. It’s a great looking shoe as well which shouldn’t be too surprising considering the company’s decades of designing attractive running shoes. In spite of being low-cut hiking shoes the Terrex provide plenty of lateral stability with most of that coming from the combination of the EVA midsole and the uncompromising Continental Rubber outsole. As is the case with other low-cut hiking shoes you have to take the ‘waterproof’ claims with a grain of salt because it doesn’t take a very deep puddle to deposit plenty of water over the low sides. But as long as you keep your eyes open you should be fine.
The synthetic in the upper is remarkably breathable: yet another reason the Terrex Fast R stays so cool and comfortable over hill and dale. The real reason to get these hiking shoes though is not for their waterproof capabilities, it’s because no matter what your experience level or level of conditioning they’ll help you get more from your effort. And that’s what great hiking shoes are all about.
- Weight1 lb
5. Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX Mid Boot
The Terrex Fast R GTX we reviewed above is one of the company’s premier hiking shoes. And one with only one obvious weakness: the low cut that allows water to easily intrude. The Terrex Fast R GTX Mid Boot addresses that weakness by lifting the upper to encompass the ankle and provide not just a higher barrier against water but a tighter wrap as well. The result are hiking shoes that earn the title ‘waterproof’ and that provide a ton of ankle support at the same time for those who need it. Of course there’s a tradeoff that comes with the higher boot and that is heat. Thankfully though the same synthetic leather upper that makes the low-rider version of the Terres so breathable provides the same service here. So while the GTX walking boots for men are undoubtedly warmer, especially during the summer months, they’re not so warm as to be distracting.
The molded ortholite liner also contributes to keeping the environment within the boot cool and dry and the Traxion outsole prevents you from sliding off that boulder into who knows what. The GTX Mid Boot laces up nice and snug and stays that way until you say otherwise. Great hiking shoes that, when partnered with some good hiking pants, will expand your outdoor horizons.
- ModelTerrex Fast R GTX Mid
6. Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3
If you didn’t crane in and take a close look you’d swear the Altra Men’s Lone Peak hiking shoes were built for the track and not the trail. And we suspect that’s how Altra want it. This is one of the few low-cut hiking shoes that could do a serviceable job doubling as a running shoe and it’s one of the few that doesn’t bother with waterproofing, which is always a mixed bag on shoes with a low profile.
Altra is certainly riding the functional edge with these hiking shoes but they manage to pull it off pretty effectively. To be sure if you’re going to engage seriously steep or mixed terrain you’ll probably want something that trends more toward true hiking shoes than the Altra. But for those content to do a few miles on the average mountain trail this should be something of a revelation. That said the Lone Peak 3 has a wonderfully breathable upper mesh and adequate lateral support. The company’s “FootShape” toe box gives your piggies plenty of room to move around without the shoe feeling lose. Traction is good on most types of intermediate terrain as is shock absorption. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for good hiking shoes for your excursions on the world’s more beaten paths these are the shoes for you.
- ModelLONE PEAK 3-M
7. KEEN Targhee II
The Keen Men’s Targhee II hiking shoes are built to keep your feet properly situated inside no matter what you’re negotiating outside. The hydrophobic mesh lining and nubuck leather provide a high level of comfort and breathability which, when combined with the low cut of the shoe ensures you’re not going to overheat even on those scalding hot days in Zion or the Grand Canyon. The EVA midsole is engineered to provide both comfort and support and is actually a little better at the comfort than the support. That’s not to say that support is lacking, just that it seems to have taken a bit of a back seat to comfort, most notably when cranking from side to side. Still it’s a relatively minor quibble and the rest of the shoe more than justifies the reasonable price.
The toe guards are some of the best around, lacing is secure and shock absorption is first rate thanks to the carbon rubber outsoles. As with other low-cut waterproof hiking shoes you need to be careful about how deep the puddles, creeks and streams are before you step in them. But keep everything within the operational parameters of the shoe and you’ll be good to go. At the end of the day the Targhee is a sound investment for intermediate hikers looking to extend their horizons.
- ModelTarghee II-M
- Weight3 lb
8. Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2
The second entry on our list from Salomon the Men’s X Ultra 2 hiking shoes have a memorable design that’s more than just a pretty face. It’s there to ensure you have every bit of support you need when the trail gets gnarly. The X Ultra 2 hiking shoe is low cut but don’t let that fool you. The company’s Sensifit system is on full display here providing a snug hold that doesn’t loosen even when you’ve been bouldering in a dry river bed for an hour. Lateral support is excellent and the quick lace system never lets go.
The injected EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) midsole does a great job absorbing shock and the rubber sole keeps your foot planted where you put it. You’ll get plenty of spring on intermediate trails and plenty of support on more technical ones and all the while your feet will stay cool and dry thanks to the high degree of breathability built into the upper. For a minimalist low-cut shoe the amount of support is pretty extraordinary. More like what we’d expect from mid-boot hiking shoes. All that said if you’re looking for a low-rider that’s also waterproof be aware this shoe doesn’t offer it. To us waterproofing in low-cut lightweight hiking shoes is always an iffy proposition anyway but you may want to keep it in mind.
- ModelX ULTRA 2-M
- Weight4 lb
9. Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Bdry
Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Bdry hiking shoes do an admirable job keeping water from penetrating to your feet but they’re way more than a one trick pony. The Sawtooth laces up fast and snug and doesn’t let go of your feet even after hours on the trail. The lacing system is augmented in its efforts by the molded heel cup that helps prevent side to side drifting. That stability is further aided by the outsized outsoles that help keep things upright along with the nylon shank that cuts down on lateral torquing. But enough about its other qualities.
Let’s spend a minute talking about the waterproof qualities of the Bdry hiking shoes. You’d better Bable to deliver on a name like Bdry and for the most part Oboz does. The shoe does its best to ensure that if there’s water inside it’s not the fault of the shoe, but of the wearer, who took on deeper water than he should have. For the most part the shoe succeeds spectacularly in its quest to keep water out and keep you moving comfortably forward. So if the level of waterproofing in a low-cut shoe is important to you, you’re definitely going to want to take a close look at the Bdry hiking shoes by Oboz.
- Model Sawtooth Low Bdry-M
- Weight2 lb
10. La Sportiva Men’s Wildcat
The final entry on our list of the 10 best hiking shoes is the Men’s Wildcat Trail Running Shoe by La Sportiva. The Wildcat is another pair of hiking shoes that doesn’t want to let go of its running shoe roots and that’s okay because what it does on the trail is pretty impressive. While it lacks some of the lateral stability you’ll find in other shoes designed more specifically for hiking lateral rigidity is adequate enough for mild to intermediate terrain and comfort is outstanding.
There’s a high degree of breathability in the AirMesh upper and plenty of shock absorption via the generously padded midsole and the “Grippy FriXion AT” sole; which also provides extra shock absorption while breaking. The Wildcat doesn’t mess around with waterproofing, mainly because these are not a serious hiking shoes; they’re a hybrid designed to allow you work the well-traveled path like it was a folding treadmill. And they do a great job at that.
- BrandLa Sportiva
- Weight3.6 lb
Hiking Shoes Buyers Guide
Things To Look For When Buying Hiking Shoes
Just like you’re used to, your good friends at Gear Hungry broke every part of the buying process down. Isolate your requirements, put them to the test on your favorite products, and see which ones emerge victorious. When you’re going for something that’s personal, like hiking pant or a hiking watch you want to ensure they’re right on the money the first time around. Here’s how to do that:
Material - This is going to play into your comfort, but also, it’s about preference. There are some people who just can’t handle leather shoes; it gives them blisters, and that’s why they’ll go for another material like suede or nylon. You want durability to hold up against the elements, but you also want to make sure that they’re shoes you actually want to wear. Function is excellent, but when it lacks on your personal brand of style, it falls flat.
Waterproofing - Arguably, one of the most important features in your hiking shoes is waterproofing in the Winter especially. When you’re out on the trail and trying to make the climb, the last thing you want is to be left with a soggy insole. If you’re a hardcore hiker and plan to be out for extended periods of time, prolonged moisture exposure can bring on the early signs of athlete’s foot and other types of bacterial fungus on your feet.
Support and Cushioning - You wouldn’t buy a shoe that you didn’t feel comfortable in, and that’s something that’s very difficult to judge online. The best place to find true blue reviews on the comfort level of shoes is on the sales page. At Gear Hungry, we test every product we can, but it’s impossible to say what’s going to be the most comfortable for you. We all different feet types, sizes, and that all plays into the decision-making process.
Traction - You need to maintain proper traction out on the trail. One slip can result in fractured or dislocated ankles, and potentially-damaging slips and falls down a trail or hillside. Hiking is all about making the climb; it’s difficult to do that properly when your hiking shoes don’t help you out and when you don't have the best compass.
Weight - The more lightweight, the better. You don’t want to walk around feeling like there are just anchors tied to your ankles. You want to keep on the move, and that requires being able to keep pace with your equipment; not pick up the slack. Heavier hiking boots also fatigue you far quicker than lightweight ones. You’re carrying extra weight—your energy level will pay the price. Especially if you put them on your back.
Durability - If you hike every weekend, or even if you only get the chance to hi the trail once a month, you want to ensure that you’re wearing a well-maintained pair of hiking shoes. You’re putting them through various angles of pressure, tension and scraping them against the unforgiving ground. They need to be able to withstand the test of time and be ready for anything, just like you are.
Breathability - We talked about waterproofing earlier—it’s a necessity, because you need to keep moisture out. The same is said for your sweat buildup in your shoes; you want to keep them as dry as possible. The breathability of your hiking shoes are excellent indicators of how long you can use your hiking shoes in a single go, before they end up being too hot/sweaty to keep going. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you do not want to start a pattern of fungal growth. Dark, wet places is where bacteria likes to grow.
Lacing System - Lace up and you’re ready to go—almost. Taking a little slip in the living room on your laces is one thing, but when you’re in the untamed wilderness, you can’t be tripping over your own shoes. Your lacing system should keep a nice tight fit on you, while ensuring that your laces aren’t going to drag across the ground. It becomes a tripping hazard.
Toe Protection and Insoles - It’s difficult to perfectly marry two traits in hiking shoes: lightweight build, and toe protection. You’re going to encounter various levels of terrain out there, as well as boulders, snags on tree branches poking up in the trail—the point is, it’s not going to be an easy time, so you need proper protection. The toe of your hiking shoes should be a bit tougher than the rest of the build, ensuring that stubbing your toe on a large rock or stumbling isn’t going to ruin your trip.
Your insoles are also key. These play more into comfort than anything else, but if you don’t have proper insoles, you’ll end up damaging your feet and, possibly, hurting your lower back and putting extra stress on your shoulders. Instability in your feet affect your posture and how well you perform out on the trail.
Price - You can’t get away from it—price is going to influence everything you do. This is where the tough choices are made, where you have to weigh the pros against the cons and decide what’s best for you, and what’s best for your wallet.
What Is A Good Test To Ensure The Proper Fitting Of My Hiking Shoes?
As with any shoe, you should have sufficient wiggle room for the tips of your toes. Apart from simply applying the shoe to your foot, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to ensure a proper fit. Wiggle room on the toes, tight around the ankle (not too tight), and you’re good to go.
How Can I Avoid Blisters?
There are a few different proactive measures you can implement to ensure you’re not going to walk off the trail with a boat load of blisters. Firstly, you need to keep your feet dry. When your feet become ever so slightly moist, your socks and the interior lining of your shoes don’t glide against your skin—they try to take it with them.
Spray the inside of your shoes with an antiperspirant prior to hiking, and be sure to keep moisture-wicking socks on the possibility list. An at-home trick if you don’t have spray antiperspirant or specific socks is to use cornstarch in your shoes to keep them dry.
What Solutions Are There For Narrow Feet?
Having narrow feet can be a bit of a bummer when you’re trying to get the right hiking shoes. It’s actually a bit easier to purchase hiking shoes if you have wide/flat feet, since it makes traction a lot easier to manipulate. The best thing you can do is look for specific hiking shoes that are designed for narrow feet, though they will be difficult to come across.
How do Hiking Shoes Improve Hiking?
There are a few main ways that they improve hiking:
Standard shoes (and hunting boots / work boots) aren’t going to give you proper traction on Mother Nature’s territory. It’s fairly difficult to gain proper traction on rocks and loose dirt. While most of it depends on your footing and stability, your hiking shoes are your second line of defense against slips and falls.
- Avoiding Blisters
Ever walk around in sneakers for far too long, only to find that you’re getting blisters on your pinky toes and the interior side of your feet? That happens to the best of us. Hiking shoes are specifically designed to breathe easier, and to lessen the likelihood of finding blisters when you pop your shoes off.
- They Withstand the Elements
Try going hiking in standard sneakers—your hiking shoes were designed to get dirty and dusty, but your casualwear sneakers weren’t. Not only that, but while you lose traction, you’ll also damage your sneakers with all the various ways that your feet twist and turn during a hike.
Hiking shoes have come a long way over the years to the point where it’s sometimes difficult to tell where the running shoes end and the hiking shoes begin. That said, any of the men’s hiking shoes reviewed above will serve you well on your future excursions and none of these hiking shoes will require you to make any financial sacrifices to acquire them.
We hope you found these reviews of the best hiking shoes for men helpful and that the information aids you in making an informed decision on which might be best for you. Be sure to stop back regularly for more insightful product reviews from the experts at Gearhungry.