10 Best Hiking Shoes For Exploring In 2017
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 treeline 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 the trail. So, without further ado let’s get started.
Top Hiking Shoes In 2017 (Our Picks)
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 waterproofing so 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.
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.
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 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.
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 leather 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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