7 Best Hiking Shoes in 2022

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
7 Best Hiking Shoes in 2022

Nowadays, exploring the outdoors is one of the many things included in people’s to-do-lists. When it comes to getting the right footgear though, many are still at a loss. But don’t fret. Choosing the right pair need not be a nightmare thanks to our best hiking boots list and our handy buyer’s guide.

We have reviewed over 300 hiking shoes to single out the best options. Whether you are after a light, urban hiking pair or something a bit more rugged for a multi-day hike, we’ve got our top picks in five different categories.

To learn more about the differences between hiking shoes and boots along with some of the important aspects of choosing the right pair, scroll down to the guide below.

How we test hiking shoes

At RunRepeat want to make sure you get the most up-to-date and honest reviews on the best hiking shoe options out there. Here is our approach:

  • We buy shoes ourselves: As an independent review website, we avoid sponsorships and purchase all hiking shoes with our own money to stay unbiased.
  • We test in real conditions: Our testers take each shoe on a series of hikes on various distances and terrains to check every important aspect, including durability, comfort, waterproofness, and more.
  • We go extra hard on popular shoes: We are especially wary of the most sought-after models, so we put them through our rigorous lab tests.
  • We consider other opinions: To make our reviews as comprehensive as they can be, we gather thousands of reviews from expert hikers and regular buyers. These are summarized in a simple pros-and-cons format to save your time.

In the end, all of the above is reflected in the CoreScore, a number from 0 to 100 which is assigned to each model. This is our proprietary scoring system which helps us select the top picks in each category.

Best hiking shoes overall

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Corescore

83
Great!
4.0 / 5 from 955 users
90 / 100 from 6 experts

Pros

  • Instant comfort
  • Grippy
  • Supportive
  • Light
  • Balance preserver
  • Watertight
  • Antimicrobial insole

Cons

  • Questionable lacing design
  • Towering collar
  • Pricey

Verdict

The X Ultra 4 GTX is a true miracle from Salomon!

For a slightly above average price of $150, this shoe offers everything you need in a rugged, ready-to-conquer-it-all hiking shoe. We were huge fans of the previous versions, and the 4th iteration doesn’t cease to amaze us.

Out of 100+ trail-tested hiking shoes, we still find this Salomon the best full-package deal. First and foremost, it’s exceptionally comfortable! Even though the shoe is on the stiffer side, it starts to feel at home after only a few miles.

This trailblazer is made for the toughest of terrains. We even ventured on some alpine off-trails to really test its capacity. And it delivers! The shoe’s got a super-sticky bite that never let is slide on rocks, dirt, and steep descents.

In addition, the shoe’s heel is designed is a way that helps you land safely and transition confidently through each step. We experienced ZERO wobbling in this Salomon shoe.

Another big bonus is the brand’s acclaimed Quicklace system. It is a lifesaver if you hate fiddling with laces and want to lace up or let loose and take the shoes off in a split second. We just love how it helps to create even pressure across the midfoot, making your foot feel more comfortable and locked in.

If you are worried about getting your feet wet, this is not an issue in the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX! This is one of the most solid waterproof hiking shoes with a GTX membrane that we have tested.

And just in case you are looking for a summer-ready version that is breathable, this shoe comes in a non-waterproof version.

But what makes it a truly special option is that all of the above is packed into the astonishing 13.8 oz! Most hiking shoes with similar characteristics come at least 2 oz heavier than this.

This is the best hiking shoe you can get with such an impressive performance-to-weight as well as a performance-to-price ratio.

See our full review and facts

Best lightweight hiking shoes

Salomon OUTline GTX
Salomon OUTline GTX

Corescore

86
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 8,265 users
82 / 100 from 15 experts

Pros

  • Remarkably pampering
  • Watertight
  • Tenaciously grippy
  • Lightweight
  • Instant break-in
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Somewhat narrow
  • Subpar support

Verdict

A hiking shoe that weighs 12.3 oz (whaaat? 1.5 oz lighter than the average!), Salomon OUTline GTX can easily be taken for a trail running shoe.

And that’s exactly how it felt on our trail tests: a running shoe with the tread of a hiker (5-mm lugs).

It fits and sits exactly like a running shoe — low around the ankle and very form-fitting. And this is pretty much how we felt about it all throughout the hike. Very light and easy on the foot, and significantly more flexible than a traditional hiking shoe.

But it’s not lacking in the support department either. Never once did we feel wobbly, or tippy, or close to turning ankles. But if you feel like you could use more support, it also comes in a boot variant — OUTline Mid GTX.

What makes it feel nothing like a running shoe is its traction. The outsole nailed our wear tests on rocks, mud, branches, and other obstacles on the way.

The shoe’s waterproofing capacity is stellar too! The industry-leading GTX membrane did a fantastic job even in our full immersion tests. Just make sure not to step too deep so that water doesn’t get inside over the shoe’s low-cut edges!

And if you are not planning to cross streams or hike under heavy rain, you can save $20 with the non-GTX version.

All in all, the Salomon OUTline GTX is our absolute favorite when it comes to uber-light hiking shoes for shorter day hikes. It feels very nimble and pushes you to go faster.

But if you’re planning something more serious like a multi-day hike with 20+ liters of weight, we recommend looking into Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX (our top pick overall).

See our full review and facts

Hiking shoes with best comfort

Merrell Moab 2 GTX
Merrell Moab 2 GTX

Corescore

87
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 46,341 users
95 / 100 from 3 experts

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Responsive 
  • Waterproofing that actually works!
  • Durable upper
  • Perfect for short one-day hikes
  • Soft, plush feel
  • Protects from sharp rocks underfoot
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Poor heel lockdown
  • Average grip

Verdict

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX stems from the brand’s iconic “mother-of-all-boots” (MOAB) model which is highly regarded in the hiking footwear scene. So our expectations for the shoe were high and we are happy to report that it has lived up!

Promising “out-of-the-box” comfort, the shoe impressed us with the initial step-in experience. It is noticeably softer and more forgiving compared to the rest of our top picks. Walking just a few miles was enough to make it feel right at home.

The shoe also makes an instant impression with its top-tier craftsmanship. It looks and feels very well-built with leather overlays adding a touch of luxury.

And oh boy how well-supported it makes you feel on the trail! 

It’s that special cushioning magic from Merrell that kept our feet pampered the entire length of our day hike.

The burly Vibram sole never ceased to amaze us either! The 5-mm deep lugs and an aggressive outsole pattern that wraps around the sides of the shoe made us feel like wearing a tank!

The GTX waterproofing nailed our tests in heavy rain and crossing streams, so you can be sure to stay dry with this Merrell shoe. And if you are not in need of 100% water protection, you can also save $25 on the non-GTX Merrell Moab 2 WP.

So, if you really value day-one comfort in your hiking footwear, we cannot think of a better option than the Moab 2!

See our full review and facts

Best wide toe box hiking shoes

Astral Brewer 2.0
Astral Brewer 2.0

Corescore

89
Superb!
4.3 / 5 from 382 users
95 / 100 from 8 experts

Pros

  • Dries very quickly
  • Extreme comfort level
  • Excellent surface grip
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Loosens up quickly
  • Amazing aesthetics

Cons

  • Subpar arch support
  • Poor forefront protection

Verdict

Plush right from the get-go with ninja-like sticking prowess—is what you might say the moment you gear up with the Brewer 2.0. It is a fully capable water hiker that rivals modern sneakers in terms of stylishness. So whether you have soaking trails to conquer or a pub to visit, the Astral Brewer 2.0 is a compelling choice.
See our full review and facts

Best hiking shoes for backpacking

KEEN Targhee II
KEEN Targhee II

Corescore

86
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 29,966 users
81 / 100 from 8 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Roomy toebox
  • Waterproof
  • Impressively durable
  • Grippy outsole

Cons

  • Loose fit
  • Rigid feel
  • Break-in period needed

Verdict

The toughness of a backpacking boot inside a low-cut hiking shoe? Yes, please! The Keen Targhee II is our highest-rated hiker for your multi-day adventures.

“Indestructive” was the first word that came to our mind when inspecting the shoe’s overall construction. Meant for some real beating-up, this is a burly boy.

The thick leather overlays on the upper made us feel very secure and protected from whatever debris came our way. Meanwhile, a really thick tough outsole rubber crashed everything under our feet.

We guarantee that this Keen shoe will make you stop thinking about where to put your foot next. Just look at that huge toe bumper!

Hiking in the rain or walking through streams or mud? This shoe will walk you through it all with 100% dry socks.

And if you have wider feet or wear thicker socks, you are in for a treat inside the Targhee II’s spacious toebox.

Sure, the Keen Targhee II is not the lightest and it takes to break in. But what does it offer in return? A mind-blowing level of protection for the toughest of terrains and conditions!

See our full review and facts

Best value hiking shoes

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Corescore

87
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 140,971 users
79 / 100 from 11 experts

Pros

  • Grippy outsole
  • Versatile (backcountry and city walks)
  • Easy to break in
  • Affordable
  • Provides arch support
  • Durable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Heel slippage
  • Not breathable
  • Lacks cushioning
  • Narrow

Verdict

The Merrel Moab 2 made it to our top picks twice! That must mean something.

For $100, you get an insanely comfortable hiking shoe that you can take from the box to the trails. Amazingly cushioned and flexible enough from the start, it begged us to go on an adventure right away!

And once hitting the trail, we realized that this is our number one.

The shoe strikes a fine balance between flexibility and structure. It kept our feet stable and never came close to ankle twisting. And yet, it’s got enough flex to help you feel maneuverable, unlike those stiffer, burlier hikers.

This Moab 2 version inherits its traction pattern from the rest of the series, bringing that sticky grip and highly protective experience. We felt surefooted on rocks and mud alike.

This hiker breathes! As a non-waterproof version, the Ventilator stays true to its name. Our feet felt nice and airy even in the warmer weather. It is a fantastic summer option!

For its price point, the shoe has an astonishingly solid build. Showing minimal wear after multiple hikes, we project it to last just as long as some of the pricier options.

Overall, for $100 you are getting the legendary hiking shoe that feels comfortable right from the box and doesn’t compromise on protection and durability.

See our full review and facts

Hiking shoes vs other types of trail footwear

Generally, your common hiking shoes offer more protection, traction, and stability than your trail runners and sneakers. If you’re the athletic type then opting for your running shoes might do just fine. If, however, you’re the exact opposite, then choosing a pair of sturdy, supportive, and grippy pair of hikers might just be what you need. 

Check out the image below to understand what makes a hiking shoe different from your trail runners, hiking boots, and your daily beaters. 

Hiking shoes vs hiking boots vs trail runners vs daily beaters (2).png

NOTE: The ratings are based on how each type of footwear performs in general. This does not, however, apply to each model that exists. The ratings will vary depending on the make and model of the shoes.

Hiking shoe anatomy: Materials and their benefits

People often underestimate hiking. While it may seem like a simple walk in the park, it actually requires endurance, stamina, and strength. The type of footwear to use will depend on the kind of hike you plan to pursue and your individual traits.

When it comes to gauging a hiking shoes’ performance comfort-, traction-, stability-, and durability-wise, it all boils down to the shoe’s configuration. To help you pick the best hiking shoe, here are the basic parts of the shoe, the materials commonly used for each, their benefits, and could-be-betters.

  Common Materials Used Key Benefits Could-be-betters
Upper
Leather (Suede/ Nubuck/ Full-grain) - Durable (material can last for years)
- Stable and supportive
- Comfortable overtime (this material most often molds to the shape of the foot over time giving hikers a customized fit)
- Feels warm (making it perfect for cold-weather conditions)
- Naturally capable of repelling water
-Takes a long time to break-in
-Full-grain leather shoes are heavier on the feet
-Less breathable
Synthetic Mesh/Nylon -Breathable
-Dries quickly
-Weighs less
-A more affordable option
-Feels softer out of the box
-Prone to wear and tear
-Provides limited support and stability
-Tends to absorb water
Midsole
EVA -Soft to mildly stiff cushioning underfoot
-Much more flexible
-Lightweight
-Less supportive
-Tends to compress over time
PU -Supportive (helps when carrying a heavy pack)
-Durable
-Feels stiff out of the box
-Weighs more
Nice to know: Some shoes are made with shanks or plates placed in between the midsole and outsole improving its stability. This equates to less foot-fatigue. The plates also prevent bruising underfoot caused by sharp rocks.
Outsole
Soft rubber -Stickier
-Flexible
-Lighter
-Best used when scrambling in rocky terrain
-Mediocre performance on muddy trails
Hard Rubber -Durable
-Stable
-More protective
-Lacks flexibility
-Feels heavy underfoot
-Less traction on sleek surfaces like wet rocks
Nice to know: Deeper outsole lugs offer better grip on muddy terrain and shed debris with ease

Waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent hiking shoes

When talking about hiking shoes, its ability to repel water is something worth considering especially when your adventure involves snowy or rainy weather conditions and trudging through muddy trails or crossing rivers and streams. However, labels like waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant often cause confusion. 

Well, you need not be confused after all. Decoding the labels is actually easy. Check out the table below.

  Water-resistant Water-repellent Waterproof
General characteristics a tightly woven fabric that is naturally capable of resisting water upon contact fabric treated with durable water-repellent (DWR) or hydrophobic chemicals -fabric treated with DWR
-have waterproofing membranes like Gore-Tex and OutDry
-have seam-sealed construction for extra protection
Water protection level low water protection moderate water protection high water protection
Water pressure resistance 0-5000 mm (no pressure or moisture) 6000-10000 mm (light pressure) 10000-20000 mm (high to very high pressure)
Weather conditions best used in light rain shower and dry snow light rain and average snow moderate to heavy rain and average to wet snow

While waterproofing has its own set of benefits, this feature can be counterproductive especially in warmer conditions. Yes, we’ve all heard of their claims of being breathable. However, the fact remains that waterproof hiking shoes are less breathable than its non-waterproof or water-resistant counterparts. They also feel heavier underfoot.

So, if you’re prone to blisters (like everyone else are), then looking at breathable hiking shoes made of quick-drying materials is another great alternative. In case you’re worried about light rain and the like, you can always buy waterproofing sprays that can turn your regular kicks into repellent ones.

Your 5-step guide to choosing the best hiking shoes

After going through all the hiking shoe models in the list, picking the right one might still be challenging. Thankfully, there are a few expert tips which you just need to keep in mind in order to find the right one.

1. Know the duration and the difficulty level of the hike

The difficulty and the duration of the hike are two things you ought to consider when selecting your next pair of hikers. A more strenuous type of terrain will require shoes that are more stable, supportive, and durable. 

When it comes to difficulty, the National Park Service (NPS) classifies the trails into 5 difficulty levels - easy to very strenuous. Below you’ll find what type of shoe works best for each difficulty level. 

Hiking shoe types - based on your hiking plans.png

NOTE: The weather condition or season will definitely affect your choice. Hiking during the summer will require you to wear breathable kicks. On the one hand, insulated hiking shoes are recommended for winter hiking.

2. The weight of your pack matters

The load you carry on your back has the most impact on you during your hike. Thus, packing light and bringing just the essentials is always a good practice. 

There are times though that you can’t avoid carrying a heavy pack especially when thru-hiking or backpacking. When the trip calls you to carry loads on your back, make sure to find shoes that offer ample lateral support (disregard this if you have strong ankles).

3. Take a closer look at your feet

Knowing your foot type makes a whole lot of difference. Aside from gauging if your feet are wide or narrow, determining your arch type would also help you figure out which shoe will work best for you.

Arch types and recommended shoes.png

4. Find the perfect fit and right size

Finding the perfect fit and right size can be a bit tricky especially for a first-timer. However, getting the best fit ain’t that hard if you follow these 6 simple tips.

Go shoe shopping in the afternoon. Expect your feet to swell after a day of activities. The same thing happens when hiking. So, it’s best to try on those new hikers late in the afternoon to get the best fit.

Try it on, lace it up, and check for pressure points. There should be a thumb’s width space between your toes and the front of your shoes. If your feet move from side to side, then the hiking shoes are too wide. It should feel snug - comfortable and non-constricting. 

Make sure to try the shoes with your hiking socks on. Bring the socks that you plan to wear with your hikers when shoe shopping. Avoid using cotton since this type of fabric retains moisture and fails to provide insulation. Instead, choose wool or synthetic socks.

Take your preferred insoles or orthotics with you. Default insoles often leave users disappointed. Aftermarket insoles or your custom orthotics can greatly improve the fit of the shoe. If this fails, you can always try another pair from another brand.

Use the ramp and walk up and down. This tests the shoe’s snugness. When you go up the board, observe for any heel lift. When you go down, check if your toes hit the front of the shoes. If your heel rises more than a quarter of an inch or if your toes hit the front, adjust the laces or try sizing up.

Make sure to break in your shoes before your trip. Hiking shoes, especially the heavy, leather ones, require a different break-in time. Start small by wearing the shoes inside your house with your preferred socks. This might feel awkward but in the end, your feet will surely thank you). From there, increase your miles gradually. 

6 step guide to ensure proper fit - hiking shoes.png

5. Learn a few lacing techniques

Knowing a few lacing techniques might sound elementary, but this can actually help you avoid unnecessary mishaps when hiking. Lacing too loose might not give you the support you need while lacing it too tight may lead to blisters and hotspots. Here are a few techniques worth learning to remedy the most common foot problems when hiking. 

Lacing techniques.png

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran 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 analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.