7 Best Backpacking Boots, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
7 Best Backpacking Boots, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Pack adventures and backcountry trips that last for days need the right gear. In the realm of footwear, backpacking boots are your sure allies.

This guide is exclusive to those in dire need of the best kicks built for extended journeys. So, whether you need something dependable on all fronts, a lightweight pair, or a boot that can tough it out there for months, we got you covered.

To make this best-of-the-best selection a reality, we’ve thoroughly tested over 100 backpacking boots available on the market. Check out our top picks in several categories below.

How we test hiking boots

We aim to provide you with unbiased reviews on the best backpacking kicks known to man. Here is what we do:

  • We receive no backpacking boots for free. All pairs are purchased with our own funds to help us stay unbiased.
  • We test every pair for days on various types of terrain—from manicured trails to off-the-beaten-path locations. We also put each boot through the wringer in different weather conditions to gauge its longevity and overall performance.
  • To make our reviews as comprehensive as possible, we factor in tons of reviews from both regular users and gear experts.

With all that in the bag, we come up with a CoreScore, which plays a major role in determining the best, and in most cases second best, backpacking boots.

Best backpacking boots overall

Salomon Quest Prime GTX
Salomon Quest Prime GTX

CoreScore

91
Superb!
4.5 / 5 from 11,804 users
94 / 100 from 6 experts

Pros

  • Light
  • Value for money
  • Sturdy
  • Minimal-to-no break-in
  • Admirable support
  • Superb construction
  • No-fatigue comfort
  • Great waterproofing

Cons

  • Easily wet toe box
  • Laces frequently untie
  • Underwhelming aesthetics

Verdict

Here’s something we are definitely proud to announce—the Quest Prime GTX is the one to beat for backpacking mastery!

Yes, this bad boy from Salomon is amazing on all fronts. That said, let’s focus on its beefy construction. The Quest Prime GTX is mighty solid. We can confirm its incredible durability in that the boot came out pretty much scratch-free after a week-long adventure on rugged terrain filled with all manners of abrasive obstacles.

Its GTX (Gore-Tex) part served us well throughout our journey. Rainwater didn’t seep in, and through creeks and puddles, the Quest Prime GTX simply shook off every drop!

Now, the Quest Prime GTX is a workhorse, but it doesn’t mean that it slacks off as far as comfort is concerned. Its plush-everywhere confines were available to us from the off, too. We were especially floored by its comfy stock footbed. Yes, you might have a hard time replacing it with your custom orthotics.

This boot also gave us its best in the area of support. Its arch zone, in particular, maintained our stride and helped us stay on our feet quite effortlessly. After our arduous trip, loaded pack in tow, our arches didn’t hurt!

You got to own the Quest Prime GTX to believe it, so don’t hold back!

Salomon Quest Prime GTX full review

Best lightweight backpacking boots

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 129 users
87 / 100 from 3 experts

Pros

  • Superior comfort
  • Light trekking gear
  • Supportive
  • Accommodating underfoot
  • Grippy outsole
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Eye-catching design

Cons

  • Weak laces
  • Narrow fit

Verdict

After going through 100+ backpacking boots, the clear winner on the lightness front is the Nucleo High II GTX from La Sportiva!

Our feet and scales don’t lie—this trekking kick is lighter than half a kilo (470 g per boot, to be exact)! Whatever La Sportiva did to make the Nucleo High II GTX as light as it is, it worked. That said, we’re placing our fingers on its rather slim construction with minimal-yet-protective overlays.

Now, the Nucleo High II GTX’s lightness has to come with superior comfort, right? Yes, the boot has tons of it! That cushy hug that we got in it was a concerted effort between the shoe’s plush padding and comfy footbed.

As for water protection, the Nucleo High II GTX didn’t let us down. In the water, which was about 3.5 inches deep, the boot kept our tootsies nice and dry. Its Gore-Tex membrane and watertight gusseted tongue were the prime suspects in all this impermeability talk!

And have we mentioned its stickiness yet? Yup, the Nucleo High II GTX didn’t relent on dry ground and wet terrain (e.g., mud and wet planks). We give this remarkable backpacking boot 5 stars in this area.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX full review

Best leather backpacking boots

Danner Mountain Light II
Danner Mountain Light II

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 3,080 users
88 / 100 from 8 experts

Pros

  • Durable
  • First-rate craftsmanship
  • Reliable traction
  • Can be recrafted
  • Best investment
  • Keeps feet dry
  • Excellent functionality
  • US-made

Cons

  • Narrow toe area
  • On the heavier side
  • Long break-in time

Verdict

So, you dig all things leather, huh? Danner has the perfect backpacking for you then, and it’s none other than the Mountain Light II!

Its virtually seamless leather upper will wow you, as it did us. What’s more impressive is that this leather shell is oh so supple on the inside. It’s magical, really, because its confines are brilliantly comfy without being overly padded.

Uneven terrain with fist-sized rocks strewn about was where we tested the Mountain Light II on the most. Our findings? A+! It was so supportive both around the heel and arch that we found ourselves not minding where our feet would land. We just made our way through the obstacles like real cowboys (with loaded knapsacks)!

Slippery and muddy areas didn’t threaten us in the Mountain Light II at all. This is because its toothy outsole kept us anchored in on whatever surface we had to traverse. And golly-wow! Going up tricky inclines in this trekking boot was downright incredible!

As serious as the boot performs, the Mountain Light II can’t be denied its dapper aesthetics. It’s a versatile beast, so it’s a win-win whether you intend to use it for trekking or hitting the pub!

Danner Mountain Light II full review

Best backpacking wide toe box hiking boots

Teva Grandview GTX
Teva Grandview GTX

CoreScore

85
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 1,358 users
89 / 100 from 2 experts

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Impressive comfort
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Durable

Cons

  • Easily accumulates dust and dirt
  • Long break-in period
  • Lack of arch support

Verdict

Oboz knows how to make great boots! The Sawtooth II Mid is a heavy-duty hiking boot and hasn’t shown any premature wear in the sole or the upper. I’ve worn them on numerous hikes and to work where I’m on my feet all day. The leather has broken in nicely and while the sole has roughed up a bit, it still slips pretty bad on wet surfaces.
Teva Grandview GTX full review

Backpacking boots with best durability

Lowa Camino GTX
Lowa Camino GTX

CoreScore

90
Superb!
4.5 / 5 from 517 users
90 / 100 from 14 experts

Pros

  • Great ankle support
  • Minimal break-in
  • Impressive lacing system
  • Protective toe bumpers
  • Excellent grip
  • Stable
  • Effective waterproofing
  • Impressive construction

Cons

  • Narrow interior
  • Insufficient arch support

Verdict

Take our word for it—the Camino GTX from Lowa is tough, tough, and tough!

We’re not kidding; this backpacking boot is a tank, and it doesn’t even look it! The brains behind the Camino GTX must’ve resorted to sorcery or divine power (we prefer the latter) to come up with something this enduring; something quite powerful!

Does its kingly durability come with exceptional performance on the trail, you ask? Definitely! The Camino GTX clung mightily on every surface we tested it on. Muddy slopes? Check. Slippery hills and inclines? Check. Grainy tracks? Oh so check!

“Superbly stable” is also how we’d describe the Camino GTX, particularly where ruggedness is involved. We found no real difference between rocky terrain and root-filled areas in this tanker—everything felt level. That’s how surefooted we were in the Camino GTX.

If you adore boots that are comfy from the box, the Camino GTX has to be on your trekking radar. Most impressive in our books in the realm of cushioning is its impossibly cushy collar. We felt no ankle rubbing in it, only hours upon hours of heavenly pampering!

Invest in the Camino GTX. You won’t be disappointed.

Lowa Camino GTX full review

Best value backpacking boots

Oboz Sawtooth II Mid
Oboz Sawtooth II Mid

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 248 users
93 / 100 from 2 experts

Pros

  • Amazing arch support
  • Very durable
  • Wide toebox
  • Comfortable for long treks
  • Snug, secure fit

Cons

  • Break-in period
  • Not for wet, slippery surfaces
  • Heavy

Verdict

Who said that extended journeys require an expensive pair? Not us! We even got the Sawtooth II Mid for you!

This hiker right here is a no-brainer for those looking for affordable gear. Case in point: This Oboz trekking boot, before price-busting deals, has a 150-dollar MSRP. Unbeatable, right?

Equally unbelievable is the Sawtooth II Mid’s weight. At no more than 490 g per shoe, this backpacking boot blew us away with nimble feet both on flat terrain and low-level elevations!

Achy arch? What’s that? We’ve nothing to report about painful arches during our week-long testing of the Sawtooth II Mid. Aside from the supportiveness of its midfoot, the sole unit’s high shock-absorption rate delivered us from ankle and knee pain.

But let’s not forget the Sawtooth II Mid’s plush interior. Comfort overflowed from its every inch right at the moment we put it on! That said, we give the boot’s royally pampering heel zone extra props. Our heels remained snugly intact in it—no blister-causing slippage to speak of.

As a non-waterproof trekking gear, the Sawtooth II Mid also has tons of breathability!

So, enough daydreaming! Spend your dough (and spend it wisely) on this remarkable Oboz kick!

Oboz Sawtooth II Mid full review
Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyzes every detail of the shoes that you might buy.