Traditional hiking boots are clunky and heavy. Sure, they are made for more demanding conditions and terrains, but that doesn’t mean we need them all the time. Enters: lightweight hiking boots. Something to go easier on our feet! This guide will showcase the best lightweight hiking boots and explain what makes them so special.
How we review lightweight hiking boots
We review lightweight hiking boots by using our CoreScore system. This means we:
- Read reviews from 293 experts and 32,143 users
- Aggregate them, remove spam, weigh reviews from proven experts more
- Take into account if shoe has only a few reviews and which version is being reviewed
- Thanks to the CoreScore, we rank all the shoes on the 0-100 scale
Fruit of our work is our collection of more than 100 rated and ranked lightweight hiking boots.
4 features of lightweight hiking boots
We’ve covered in great detail hiking boots in our guide for buying the best hiking boots. Here, we’ll focus on what makes lightweight hiking boots different:
- Lightweight: at RunRepeat, all lightweight hiking boots weigh less than 500g.
- Breathable upper materials: synthetic materials, suede, mesh.
- Soft: these shoes have a shorter break-in period because they aren’t as rigid as traditional hiking boots. Your feet have a greater degree of freedom in them.
- Flexibility: you’ll notice you’re more agile in these shoes when covering uneven terrain. Less stiff rubber sole allows them to bend, which is impossible to do in traditional hiking boots.
Lightweight hiking boots can be found both in mid-cut and high-cut versions.
Hiking boots weight comparison
This average difference of 242g is what makes lightweight hiking shoes so special!
Steps for finding your perfect fit
There are a few important steps to follow when it comes to trying on and buying hiking boots.
These 6 steps will guide you through the process of trying out the hiking shoes.
- Go shopping in the afternoon, so feet are swollen at least a bit. Swelling happens anyway when hiking, so it makes sense.
- Try the boots with your hiking socks on. Bring the socks that you plan to wear with your hikers when shoe shopping. Avoid using cotton, but choose wool or synthetic socks.
- Try it on, lace it up, and check for pressure points. You don’t want any part of your shoe to feel loose!
- There should be a thumb’s width space between your toes and the front of your boots.
- If you’re wearing special insoles or orthotics, take them with you and insert them into the boots when trying them on.
- Use the ramp! All hiking/outdoor stores have it. Walk up and down. This tests the boot’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, try adjusting the laces. If your toes hit the front, try sizing up.
When you’ve made the purchase, make sure you break in your boots before your adventure.
What lightweight hiking boots are for?
To make them lightweight, some hiking boot features had to be omitted or reduced to a certain level. This is what defines when and where you should wear the lightweight hiking boots:
- Short hikes, a day or a few days long
- Easy hikes, on terrain that is not too demanding; for technical parts, it’s best to have stiff shoes with rigid soles
When you should not wear lightweight hiking boots
Given their feature set, lightweight hiking boots are not recommended for:
- Mountaineering and heavy backpacking, especially at high altitudes
- Difficult weather conditions - they are more breathable, but also less able to endure great amounts of snow and rain
- Cold weather - traditional hiking boots will keep your feet warmer than the lightweight ones
- Hikes where you need to use spikes (crampons): for this, you need to check if your shoes are compatible with crampons and graded for that use. Most lightweight shoes would fall on both tests - their soles can’t have crampons attached to them and they are not rigid enough.