Choosing the right hiking boot is like trying to figure out a menu in a different language or deciding where your next adventure will be.
Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but this choice is no less important. In fact, choosing the right footwear is critical for your comfort and hiking performance, and not to mention a really big decision as they are such a big investment.
So how do you choose?
With so many options out there, it can be tough. If you’re struggling to find the right pair for you, try and identify what you will need them for and go from there. If you’re looking to buy hiking boots to take with you while traveling, a lightweight pair should be your top pick.
To help you on your trek to find the best men’s hiking boots (see what I did there), we’ve compiled a list of our top ten contenders that satisfy a range of needs!
- 1 Our Picks for Top Men’s Hiking Boots (2021)
- 2 Men’s Hiking Boots: Comparison Table
- 3 Why Do You Need Hiking Boots?
- 4 Types of Hiking Boots
- 5 What to Look for in a Good Pair of Hiking Boots
- 6 Best Men’s Hiking Boots (2021)
- 6.1 Merrell Moab Mid 2 Waterproof
- 6.2 Salomon Quest 4D III GTX
- 6.3 Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof
- 6.4 Keen Targhee III Mid
- 6.5 Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
- 6.6 Vasque St. Elias GTX
- 6.7 Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX
- 6.8 Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
- 6.9 Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX
- 6.10 Scarpa R-Evolution GTX
- 6.11 Looking for more gear? Check out these guides
Our Picks for Top Men’s Hiking Boots (2021)
- Best Budget Boots: Merrell Moab Mid 2 Waterproof
- Best for All Terrain: Salomon Quest 4D III GTX
- Best for Travel: Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
- Best for Durability: Arc’teryx Bora 2 Mid GTX
- Best for Comfort: Scarpa R-Evolution GTX
Men’s Hiking Boots: Comparison Table
Merrell Moab Mid 2 Waterproof $ 1 lb. 15 oz Mid Budget Salomon Quest 4D III GTX $$ 2 lbs. 30 oz Mid / High All Terrain Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof $$ 2 lbs. 30 oz Mid Comfort Keen Targhee III Mid $ 2 lbs. 3 oz Mid Budget Lowa Renegade GTX Mid $$$ 2 lbs. 7 oz Mid Support Vasque St. Elias GTX $$ 3 lbs. 1 oz Mid / High Backpacking Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX $$$ 2 lbs. Low / Mid Trail Running Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX $$$ 1 lb. 8 oz Mid Lightweight Arc’teryx Bora 2 Mid GTX $$$ 2 lbs. 11 oz Mid / High Comfort Scarpa R-Evolution GTX $$ 1 lbs. 14 oz High Comfort
Why Do You Need Hiking Boots?
“Why even bother with hiking boots?” you may say to yourself. “Why not just stick with a pair of trusty sneakers?”
The simple answer is hiking boots provide you with support, protection and durability that regular walking shoes do not.
A good pair of hiking boots should be suitable for a wide variety of terrain and conditions, making them a practical investment if you’re a lover of the outdoors.
Any pair of hiking boots that you choose should offer you at least basic ankle, toe and arch support, as well as protection from elements of weather and nature. They should be sturdy enough to last you several years, and provide you with adequate support when carrying a heavy load.
The sole of hiking boots is also a large component that separate them from regular shoes, as it tends to be much stiffer to keep you comfortable on uneven and treacherous surfaces.
Most importantly, a good pair of hiking boots should be waterproof (or at the very least water-resistant), something that normal walking shoes are not. This way you can wear them rain or shine, stomp through mud and puddles, all the while keeping your toes nice and dry.
Hiking boots are simply a must if you’re a trail lover.
Types of Hiking Boots
There are three main categories of hiking boots: lightweight, midweight and heavyweight. Each category has its pros and cons.
To figure out which type is best is you, you’ll have to first decide what you’ll mainly be using your boots for.
Here’s a quick guide on the differences between the three different types of hiking boots.
Lightweight hiking boots are best for travelers who are looking to hit the trails while on the road.
Despite their weight, most lightweight hiking boots are just as durable as those in the other categories, offering the same amount of protection from the elements and unfavorable conditions.
Lightweight hiking boots typically weigh less than 3 pounds per pair, making them practical to take along on all of your adventures. They’re generally made of softer material like synthetics or nylon.
One downside is that they may not offer as much support as a pair of heavier boots.
That being said, lightweight boots are great for day treks and backcountry exploring all around the world.
Midweight boots are slightly heavier than lightweight boots, weighing between 2 and 4 pounds a pair. A step up from the lightweight category, midweight boots offer increased support and protection without weighing you down too much.
Midweight boots are best for serious hikes and general backpacking, allowing you to carry a decent-sized load without putting too much stress on your feet and ankles.
Good boots in this category should offer more ankle stability than lighter models, making them ideal for rugged terrain.
The final category of boots are the heavyweight ones, which tend to be made of full leather and are made for serious backpackers with heavy loads.
Heavyweight boots are built to last a lifetime and survive in the toughest of conditions. Rain or shine, up or downhill, these boots will be there for you through it all.
Heavyweight boots are best for heavy loads and rocky trails, as well as hiking in wet or snowy conditions. Because of the thick and durable material, these boots tend to have better insulation, keeping your feet comfortable in the coldest of climates.
Be warned though, it’s imperative to properly break in heavyweight boots before taking to the trail. Once they are broken in, you’ll have a pair of boots to last you for many years to come.
What to Look for in a Good Pair of Hiking Boots
There are a few key qualities you should consider when picking out a pair of hiking boots.
Here’s a breakdown of seven main features that are important to keep in mind when choosing boots for your next adventure.
A main consideration to think about when choosing a pair of hiking boots is if they’re waterproof or not. While the vast majority of hiking boots are waterproof, you’ll occasionally run into a pair that isn’t, or is simply water-resistant.
Waterproof boots are important if you plan on hiking in different seasons, climates and weather conditions. The last thing you want is to step in a puddle or get caught in a downpour and be stuck with soggy feet for the rest of the day.
There are many materials that make hiking boots waterproof, but the main one you’ll run into is GORE-TEX (GTX). GORE-TEX is an insulator that’s meant to keep water from entering the inside of the boot, and thus keeps your foot dry.
An alternative to GORE-TEX is a boot that has undergone some sort of chemical waterproof treatment which wicks water off the boot instead of absorbing it. You can also buy this treatment and waterproof boots yourself.
The downside to having a waterproof boot is it impacts breathability, another important factor to take into account when choosing a pair of boots.
While waterproof boots keep water from entering the shoe, it also traps moisture inside, which isn’t ideal.
If you’re looking for a boot with maximum breathability (best for hot conditions), you should opt for boots made of synthetic materials which are much lighter and airier than the leather alternative.
Another important factor of a hiking boot is a stiff sole. A stiff sole offers much more support than a flimsy one, and also creates a barrier between your foot and the rough conditions under it.
The majority of sole support comes from a piece called the shank which is found between the midsole and the outsole.
It’s best to find boots with shanks that stretch the entire length of the midsole rather than just half. This creates maximum stiffness and thus maximum sole support.
If you’re a heavy duty hiker and tend to stray off the beaten path, it’s extra important that your boots have good ankle support. When wearing shoes with little ankle support, one wrong step and you’re out of commission.
Good ankle support generally comes from boots that are mid or high cut, with the boot stretching up and wrapping around your ankle to keep it in place.
A dependable and secure lacing system is often overlooked as an important feature in hiking boots, but it makes all the difference!
You want laces that wrap up around your ankle to keep it in place, with sturdy and frequent hooks. The best lacing systems will stay tight all day without coming loose. Constant readjustment and laces coming loose can lead to hot spots and blisters, not to mention an annoying day of tying and retying on the trail.
The main component that goes into traction is the lug pattern.
The lug pattern is made up of the grooves and bumps found on the bottom of the book. The deeper and thicker the lugs are, the better your grip on the ground.
For maximum traction, look for a pair of hiking boots that have a heel brake. This is a section on the back of the sole direction under your heel. It also features lugs, but these bumps are made especially so that you don’t slip while going downhill.
Probably the most important factor when choosing a pair of hiking boots is how long they’ll last. Because boots are rather expensive, they’re an investment that should last you for many years.
The most durable hiking boots are made from full-grain leather, which is resistant to abrasions as well as water. Nubuck leather boots are also highly durable and tend to be more flexible than full-grain leather.
You should also look for boots with a harder outsole, which will last you longer than one that is softer.
If durability is your main concern, stay away from boots made form synthetic materials, as these are more prone to wear and tear.
Best Men’s Hiking Boots (2021)
After carefully weighing considerations like most important factors and the main use of your boots, you’re ready to choose a pair that’s right for you.
We’ve taken the time to review 10 epic pairs of hiking boots for men to help you find your new trekking companion!
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz
Pros: Lightweight | Water-resistant | Comfortable
Cons: Potentially lacks durability and support for long hikes
Our top budget pick for you avid hikers on a budget has to be the Merrell Moab Mid 2 Waterproof Hiking Boot.
A perfect choice for day hikers who mostly stick to maintained trails or even if you just need comfortable boots for walking every day, these boots are super lightweight, comfortable and won’t break your bank.
You might be thinking that a lower price affects the quality of the shoe, but you would be surprised. While it doesn’t offer as much support or durability for carrying heavy loads or hiking on rough and rocky trails, it does offer features that are desirable to the casual explorer: a waterproof membrane, good cushioning and trusty Vibram outsoles.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t need a waterproof boot? Merrell’s Moab Mid Ventilator Hiking Boots are the same model but are highly breathable instead of waterproof.
Our Favorite Features: All the features of this pair of hiking boots seems to provide the perfect mix of performance and comfort for all you weekend adventurers, and on a budget too!
Weight: 1.4 lbs
Pros: Lightweight | Water-resistant |Supportive | Durable
Cons: Not entirely waterproof
For an all rounder men’s hiking boot, the Salomon Quest 4D III GTX seem to champion above all others.
Why? Well, when a product shows optimal performance in everything, it’s pretty hard to deny it is rightful first place position!
A perfect hiking boot from daily walking to serious hiking and backpacking, this updated version of a popular men’s hiking boots tick all the boxes for weight, comfort, and functionality. In fact, due to their superior traction, water resistance, and support, they are troopers on all kinds of terrain without lacking breathability.
The third generation of the 4D model was designed specifically to reduce foot fatigue and keep you going for long periods of time.
So, whether you’re a short trail hiker or enjoy pounding the miles, these boots will support your feet and ankles like no other boot has before. It’s no wonder they are a favorite on the current market!
Insider’s Tip: These men’s hiking boots are also suitable for snowshoeing.
Our Favorite Features: Although these boots are awesome in every way, we have to say that the great lacing system is our favorite feature! Providing a supportive fit that will give you comfort for hours and hours, trust us when we say you will not be left disappointed with this model.
Weight: 2 lbs, 30 oz
Pros: Midweight | Water-resistant | Comfortable
Cons: Durability is slightly lower than bulkier models
If you’re looking for a boot that is suitable for traveling and walking as well as hiking, then Merrell Capra Mid may be what you’re looking for.
With TrailProtect™ padding, heel air cushions and an arch shank, these boots are comfortable and breathable, yet they also offer the level of stability and protection that you would expect from a serious hiking shoe.
With additional features such as the waterproof leather uppers and Vibram® Mega Grip, these boots are also a great choice for incline trails and scrambling over snow or ice. A proper Indiana Jones boot, this pair will suit the everyday man by day and adventurer by night!
Our Favorite Features: We love the mix of features that makes this model suitable for an everyday adventure.
Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz
Pros: Lightweight | Water-resistant | Comfortable
Cons: Takes a while to break in | Little arch support
If you’re a weekend warrior or avid day hiker, you might want to check out the Keen Targhee III Mid hiking boot. A favorite among adventurers on a budget, these boots will keep your feet comfortable all day!
Despite the affordable price tag, the Keen Targhee III Mid is surprisingly tough with a high ankle, toe cap and leather upper. These features also offer above-average traction and rollover protection which is exactly what you need from a long day walking the trails.
However, note that this newer model may fit a bit narrower in the toes due to the enhanced design of the uppers.
If you’re looking for men’s hiking boots that will perform, provide comfort AND give you value for money, these boots are a must on any sub-alpine adventure!
Our Favorite Features: The lacing and high-construction make this boot perfect for day hikers on a budget.
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz
Pros: Lightweight | Water-resistant | Supportive | Comfortable
Cons: Slightly less durable than other midweight boots
If all you want is a traditional sturdy hiking boot, the Lowa Renegade will give you that and more.
This leather model is tough and grounded and provides you with great isolation from the ground, yet these boots are impressively lightweight. Sounds perfect right?
These robust boots are ideal for the roughest of trails, yet light enough to pack in your backpack, so you can carry these anywhere with you. A traditional hiking boot, suitable for short or long hikes, the stable and water-resistant Lowa Renegade is the perfect backpacker boot!
Our Favorite Features: These boots have the perfect balance of weight and support, making them crazy comfortable.
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz
Pros: Water-resistant | Supportive | Durable | Comfortable
An aesthetically smart and modern hiking boot, the Vasque St. Elias performs at the top of every feature in the heavyweight category. So, naturally, these boots are a great choice for any hiking venture!
With its full leather build and other sturdy features, such as the EVA midsole and TPU shank, it’s obvious that these were made to pack some miles. Although they were designed for stability, support, and comfort, Vasque also had day hikes in mind when they gave the boots a more flexible frame.
So, if you’re looking for a hiking boot that is suitable for any hike and you’re not too worried about weight, don’t be deceived by the clunky appearance of the Vasque St. Elias; this nimble model will surprise you!
Our Favorite Features: The Vasque St. Elias offers two versions of this boot, one for narrow feet and one for wider feet. This makes these men’s hiking boots one of the best-fitted boots!
Weight: 2 lbs. 0 oz
Pros: Lightweight | Water-resistant | Supportive
A great hiking boot for trail running, the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 is also a favorite among hiking enthusiasts and fast-packers alike.
Obviously, as the boot is ultra lightweight (seriously, they are a similar weight to low-top hiking shoes), these are ideal for speed and ease of transport. However, what is surprising is that these boots also offer great ankle support and protection despite the compromises in weight.
This updated model of a timeless classic has enhanced traction to improve downhill descents. The lugs are even more effective than the last model, allowing wearers to comfortably head downhill in any condition,
One of the lightest and most flexible of men’s hiking boots, the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 is a very decent choice for hikers on the move.
Our Favorite Features: Our top feature has to be the weight (or lack of) of these boots! The fact that you can have an ankle-high hiking boot which gives you stability and support, but at a weight of a low-top hiking shoe, is unbeatable.
Weight: 1 lbs 8 0z
Pros: Midweight | Water-resistant | Durable | Support
A perfect blend of an approach shoe and alpine boot, the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX is another model that will hold up on the roughest of trails and in the harshest of conditions.
Due to the company being a mountaineering and climbing company first, one thing is for sure with their boots: they do not compromise on quality and durability. Featuring a protective rand that wraps around the whole lower section of the boot, this total isolation from any terrain makes this boot a must-have if you’re planning on hiking off trail.
Obviously built for toughness, this boot can feel too heavy or stiff on well-maintained paths. So, if you’re looking for men’s hiking boots that are only suitable for the most physical adventures, look no further than the Salewa Mountain Trainer model.
Our Favorite Features: Probably due to the company’s background in climbing, the lacing system on these boots are amazing! As the laces extend all the way down to the toes, these boots are perfect for all foot types, even those with wide forefeet or narrow heels.
Weight: 2 lb. 11.7 oz
Pros: Midweight | Water-resistant | Comfortable | Fast drying
Cons: Pricey | Breathability | Not suitable for standard paths
Arc’teryx may be fairly new to the footwear market, but it has long been making some of the best outerwear! One of the best hiking boot models that they offer has to be the Bora2 Mid GTX.
A midweight hiker option, Bora2 provides the wearer with great stability, traction and foot protection, and performs amazingly on difficult terrain.
The only qualms that you may have with it would be that the durability does affect its breathability, and what makes it so great on tough terrain affects its use on standard paths.
Featuring a unique 2-piece construction with a removable stretch bootie, this particular model is one of the most comfortable fitted boots out of the hardcore boot range.
Our Favorite Features: With its tough outer shell, the Bora2 Mid GTX makes for a great approach shoe but is also suitable as a lightweight trail boot. If you’re hiking in warm conditions on trails that are mostly rocky, this model is perfect.
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz
Pros: Midweight | Water-resistant | Fit | Supportive
Last but not least is a boot from the Italian company Scarpa, which specializes in making awesome alpine gear, and the boot that makes the list is R-Evolution GTX.
An impressive hiking boot that scores big for both trail performance and comfort, many backpackers and hikers have recommended this model and it’s really no surprise. Offering a sock-fit design, these boots seriously fit like a glove (or sock) and provide the wearer with amazing support and stability which is required on tough terrain.
This particular company is also known for the little details that make a big difference, such as the foam tongue that allows you to tighten the laces without the pinching of material. If you’re looking for men’s hiking boots and quality is high up on your list, Scarpa is the company to look for.
Our Favorite Features: The tongue of this boot is a stretchy fabric filled with memory foam, which is then stitched to the boot’s upper. This means that when you tie the boots up tight, the tongue doesn’t bunch up at the top. This may be a really small detail that many don’t consider a problem, but we think it’s cool nonetheless, and an awesome consideration to comfort.
So what do you think? Which of the above men’s hiking boots tick all the right boxes for you?
With so many options for hiking boots and so many different reasons to use them for, hopefully this list will help you figure out what you want so you find the perfect hiking boots you’ve been looking for!
Additional content contributed by Jane Elmets
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