7 Best Summer Hiking Shoes in 2024

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Summer Hiking Shoes in 2024
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Are you looking forward to busting some trails this coming summer season? If so, don’t settle for anything less — be in the best hiking shoes possible by considering the summer kicks on display below.

Do you need a doozy in the comfort department? Maybe you’re quite desperate for a grippy summer pair? Or perhaps you just need something super-affordable? Whichever kick you need, there’s more than enough summertime goodness waiting for you here. 

We went over with a fine-tooth comb in testing each of these summer shoes. We made sure that we personally witnessed and experienced the shoes before we describe them so everything remains factual - No BS!

How we test hiking shoes

RunRepeat is the place to be for compelling collections, including this summer-ready lineup. Here is what helps us come up with the top picks:

  • We purchase summer hiking shoes with our own money.
  • We wear these breezy hikers during the summer months to gauge their truest potential.
  • To make our reviews as comprehensive as possible, we support our claims and experiences with evidence. We measure the different aspects of the shoes using our own invested tools inside our lab. Not only that but we view each shoe in a zoomed-in perspective by splitting them in half.

Best summer hiking shoes overall

Merrell Moab 3
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

Based on our lab analysis and test hikes, we have come to the conclusion that the Merrel Moab 3 is the best overall summer hiking shoe. Don’t be deceived by its workhorse appearance; this shoe was extraordinarily comfortable from day one. It kept our feet cool on hot summer hikes with excellent breathability and its flexible midsole allows our foot to flex naturally over uneven surfaces, improving its already stellar grip. What’s not to like?!

We were mightily impressed by the shoe’s ability to breathe and keep our feet sweat-free on hot days. We took a closer look at the shoe’s upper and saw that the tightly-woven mesh has plenty of ventilation pores. We found this great for drainage when we encountered damp conditions. To double-check our observations, we pumped smoke into the shoe to see how much made it through the pores. No surprises there - the smoke passed quickly and easily through the upper, so we awarded it 4/5 (5 is the most breathable).

The Moab 3 is a star for comfort. With its 14.5 mm-thick padded tongue (2 mm thicker than average) and extra padding around the heel, we needed no wear-in time. We noticed how nimble the shoe feels on our test hikes, so we brought them into the lab to crunch the numbers. We bent them to 90° with a force gauge, which measured an impressive 24.9N. Since the average is 39.2N, we know that this is a seriously flexible shoe!

On the other hand, we don’t recommend this shoe to hikers looking for something lightweight to cover a lot of ground quickly. At 16.2 oz (460g) the Merrel Moab 3 is 0.7 oz 20g heavier than average.

Pros

  • Supremely comfy
  • Zero break-in
  • Boss-level support
  • Solid grip
  • Stable platform
  • Fantastic cushioning
  • Fits various foot shapes
  • Cheaper than average
  • Recycled materials

Cons

  • Heavier than average
  • Not quite sleek-looking
Full review of Merrell Moab 3

Most comfortable summer hiking shoes

What makes it the best?

Hoka Skyline-Float X stood out in our lab tests and actual trail adventures, providing not only a breezy experience but a cushioned, stable, and energetic one too. Its maximalist nature delivers heavenly comfort that keeps us chasing the miles even under the scorching heat of the sun, easily winning the comfort game among summer hiking shoes.

The upper embraced us with lots of delicate padding that feels luxurious on foot. Despite this, it offers infinite airflow as it’s dotted with ventilation holes, as confirmed by our lab with a flawless breathability rating.

The midsole offers bottomless cushioning and protection against landing impact. Our caliper reveals a sky-high stack of 39.0/31.0 mm. Surprisingly, the ride feels steady thanks to the supportive Pebax plate, midsole sidewalls, broad landing base, and dual-density foams. Our durometer reveals that the top layer is a plush 22.0 HA, gently compressing underfoot and propelling us forward with liveliness. Meanwhile, the bottom layer, balanced at 27.9 HA, enhances our stability.

Further instilling confidence in our strides is the Vibram outsole’s unmatched traction. The 3.7 mm lugs boasted its adhesive power no matter where we went, from loose ground to wet rocks, and even muddy tracks.

However, the plush nature of the upper absorbs water and drains it out poorly. We recommend staying away from wet conditions in this pair.

Pros

  • Extremely well-cushioned
  • Devilishly comfortable
  • Responsive, rockered midsole
  • Works for light trail running
  • Excellent multi-terrain traction
  • Can tackle technical trails
  • Feels surprisingly stable
  • Performs consistently in the cold
  • Made of sustainable and plant-based materials

Cons

  • Questionable durability
  • Narrow toebox
  • Upper dries slowly
Full review of Hoka Skyline-Float X

Summer hiking shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

When we need a lightweight pair of shoes for summer hikes that support us even on the most technical of trails, we reach for our trusty Salomon X Ultra 4s. They are supportive and grippy, plus lightweight and exceptionally breathable, making them our top choice for summer hiking shoes with the best stability.

We also tested the stability of the shoes on different terrains out on our hikes. We were amazed how well these shoes stick to wet rock, soggy trails and loose gravel, so we flipped them over in the lab to take a closer look. First we measured the depth of the lugs on the Contragrip sole. They are pretty substantial - at 5.2 mm deep, they are 0.9 mm deeper than average. The classic chevron design prevents slipping when we are walking uphill or downhill, and the chunky heel lug keeps us steady on loose descents.

On our test hikes we got caught out by rain and found ourselves dodging puddles. Of course, our feet got wet, but we were astonished to find they dried out quicker than our wet clothes! We know, then, that we’re talking about a very breathable and quick-drying pair of shoes, making them an excellent choice for hot summer days - sweaty feet begone!

For hikers who are fed up with having to stop to retie shoe laces, Salomon’s quick laces may be a blessing. We found they locked our feet in securely and, along with the plastic shank in the midsole, kept our ankles from twisting. It gave us a lot of confidence in our footholds when rock hopping and light scrambling.

We don’t recommend these to hikers who will be doing a lot of walking in muddy areas. The 41 chunky lugs are tightly packed, and we noticed they had some problems shedding mud, making them slippery.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Exceptional breathability
  • Excellent grip
  • Comfortable midsole
  • Great ankle support
  • Insanely protective

Cons

  • Lacing system is not adjustable
  • Some issues with rubbing at the ankle
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4

Summer hiking shoes with the best grip

Salomon Outpulse
85
Great!

What makes it the best?

One of our top essentials on our warm-weather trail adventures is the Salomon Outpulse. Not only does it provide a firm hold on loose and dry soil but it also affords us ease and comfort in the great outdoors. Our feet are unburdened by difficulties the whole time we are sun-soaked!

We observed the gripping power of the Salomon Outpulse to be outstanding in various trails. Wet, dry, and muddy, the Salomon Outpulse never had us doubt our strides and balance.

Regarding the foot feel, we couldn’t be more satisfied. The pored upper of this hiking shoe sure does its job of allowing uninterrupted air penetration. With feet as fresh as ever, we are able to hike for miles.

On uneven terrains and rough off-roads, our feet also remained unbothered and the fantastic midsole made it all possible. The collar also has a lavish padding, steering us far from blisters. Unfortunately, the durability failed to impress us. We found the Salomon Outpulse to be best suited for hikers who go on leisurely and intermediate expeditions.

Pros

  • Grippy and durable lugs
  • Extremely breathable
  • Lighter than average
  • Protective and bouncy midsole
  • Great for long hikes
  • Speedy and tenacious
  • Comfortable and high-quality upper construction
  • Secure lockdown
  • No break-in required
  • Performs consistently in the cold

Cons

  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Tongue slippage
Full review of Salomon Outpulse

Best lightweight hiking shoes for summer

What makes it the best?

Among the summer hiking shoes we've tested, Merrell’s Moab Speed 2 offers the best lightweight experience. This agile hiker provides all-day comfort with its plush cushioning, breathable upper, and reliable traction, allowing us to tackle any trail confidently. Versatile enough for high-speed and leisurely hikes, it's the perfect companion for summer adventures.

Moab Speed 2 never weighed us down. At a mere 11.6 oz (329g), it’s currently the lightest we’ve tested, far from the 13.4 oz (379g) average hiker. Its build allows us to move through trails faster since it's easier to control and requires less effort when climbing. Adding to its lightness is the breezy mesh upper that scored a high 4/5 breathability in our lab’s smoke test.

Underfoot, we were surprised to find impressive arch support and a very generous 38.8 mm heel despite its weightlessness. No matter how long our hikes last, our feet feel at home in the plush 19.0 HA foam our durometer measured, 31.4% softer than average. 

The Vibram TC5+ outsole lined with 3.7 mm lugs grips onto moderate terrains effectively, ensuring every landing is safe and sound. Further boosting our stability is the FlexPlate which adds stiffness underfoot to help conserve our energy and balance.

However, its thick slab of foam erases ground sensation. Those who prefer a stronger trail connection should explore less-cushioned shoes.

Pros

  • One of the lightest hiking shoes
  • Plush and abundant cushioning
  • Great support and stability
  • Perfect grip for moderate terrain
  • Excellent durability
  • Breathable for summer
  • Cozy step-in feel
  • Two loops for easy on-off

Cons

  • Frail inner lining
  • Small debris gets inside
Full review of Merrell Moab Speed 2

Best shoes for water hiking in summer

What makes it the best?

ACG Watercat+ emerges as the top choice for water hiking among the summer hiking shoes we tested. Living up to its "all conditions gear" reputation, it excels most notably in and around water—effortlessly navigating currents while providing exceptional drainage. With its low stance and suction-like grip, it ensures excellent ground feel and stability on wet rocks.

The shoe's innovative design facilitates breathability and rapid drying. The basket-weave construction allows for efficient ventilation, while drainage holes in the sole ensure quick water release. Even after complete submersion, our feet dry rapidly. Further confirming the obvious is its 5/5 score on our breathability test.

Featuring a flexible and grounded build, the Watercat+ provides a nearly barefoot sensation, enhancing agility and balance, especially in underwater environments. Its impressive flexibility contributes to a closer connection to the terrain. Our bend test confirms it's 19.3% more flexible than its counterparts. Additionally, its lower-than-average 22.0/17.3 mm stack results in a leveled 4.7 mm drop, further emphasizing surface feedback.

True to its feline-inspired name, the Watercat+ delivers outstanding traction on slippery surfaces, thanks to its rounded beehive-patterned outsole that mimics suction cups.

However, the minimalist upper may not provide sufficient ankle support for pronators. Those with stability needs should consider alternative options.

Pros

  • Outstanding water drainage
  • Immensely breathable
  • Excellent abrasion resistance
  • Very light on foot
  • Amazingly grippy on wet
  • Very grounded platform
  • Bends along with the foot
  • Adaptable fit with a roomy toebox
  • Easy on-and-off
  • Comfy in-shoe feel
  • Bold aesthetics

Cons

  • No arch or ankle support
  • Catches debris and small pebbles easily
Full review of Nike ACG Watercat+

Best budget summer hiking shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Adidas Terrex AX4 is a superbly versatile hiking shoe and represents excellent value for money. At 90$, it is $22 cheaper than average for summer hiking shoes. It certainly won’t break the bank, and yet it offers a bunch of features, making it the best value summer hiking shoe. In our lab tests and out on the trail, it proved remarkably breathable, with perfect cushioning and rock-solid stability, making it a great day hiking shoe for the warm summer months.

On our hikes, we found the Terrex AX4 carefully walks the line between breathability and water repellency - quite rare in hiking shoes. In the lab, we pumped smoke into the shoe to gauge its breathability. We rated it 3/5 - right in the middle of the range. Photos taken with our microscope show the tightly-woven fabric upper, whose ventilation pores are small enough to prevent water from dew-soaked grass and light drizzle from seeping into the shoe.

Our feet could breathe on our hikes, keeping them comfortable and blister-free whilst also dealing with light summer showers. Even after a couple of creek crossings, our feet dried out surprisingly quickly, thanks to the breathable upper.

Our feet were well-protected from sharp stones on the trail, so we tested the hardness of the midsole in the lab. Pressing a durometer against the midsole, we found it to measure 39 HA, 19% firmer than average. In practice, we found this firmer midsole supported our feet over longer distances whilst boasting top-notch protection from sharp objects.

We were impressed by the stability this shoe offered on our hikes and investigated it in the lab. We measured the width of the midsole with a caliper - the forefoot is 1.8 mm wider than average, and at the heel, 1.1 mm wider than average. In our manual tests of the heel counter, we rated it 5/5, the stiffest possible. Every little helps - the stiff heel counter keeps our feet firmly in the shoe, and the wider-than-average platform stops us from rolling our ankles on steep and rocky trails.

We don’t recommend this shoe to hikers looking for a fully waterproof shoe for multi-day hikes or multiple stream crossings. 

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Feels like a trail running shoe
  • Breathable
  • Water-repellent
  • Solid grip
  • Durable for the price
  • Stable platform
  • Contains recycled materials

Cons

  • Lacks toe protection
  • Flimsy insole
Full review of Adidas Terrex AX4

Looking for the most breathable shoes is an obvious thing to do. But it’s not enough. Hiking is also very much about proper traction to keep you safe, durability to keep you safe and save you money, and perfect fit. To keep you comfortable and hiking for years to come. This guide will teach you how to find summer shoes that match your criteria. 

Breathability lab tests and results

Finding the summer shoe equals finding the breathable shoe. And here’s why you should trust our results. In our lab, we use 3 tests to assess breathability. First, we use a smoke machine to fill the shoe with smoke and watch closely where the smoke comes out and how much of it comes out. Sometimes, it’s just the eyelets (not breathable shoes), other times, it’s all over the place (very breathable shoes). 

When doing this test, we assign a rating of 1 to 5 to every shoe, 5 for most breathable. In the example above, it's the breathable shoe on the left, and the non-breathable one (waterproof) on the right.

After that, we check the shoe upper under a microscope. It is so interesting to see how the upper is made, how the fibers are intertwined, and whether there are any vent holes. 

Hiking shoes and their uppers under the microscope

(Up) Most breathable uppers (5/5 on the breathability test) and
(down) the least breathable uppers (scored 1/5 on our breathability test)

This depends on the technology used and on the material of the upper. Gore-Tex and leather hiking shoes are less breathable, while mesh can be top-of-the-class breathable. Finally, we examine the upper over a flashlight to understand where overlays are and why the smoke did or did not come out where we expected. 

Want a durable and breathable upper? 

Just because the upper is super breathable, it doesn’t mean it can be durable as well. Or can it? Let’s see. 

In the lab, we use a Dremel and press it against the upper. Then, we visually assess the damage and rate it on a 1-5 scale, where 1 is the least durable. 

Here, you can see the most durable uppers in summer hiking shoes. As an extra layer, we added the durability of the outsole and heel counter as well. The heel counter is also assessed on a 1-5 scale, while the durability of the outsole is measured in millimeters: how deep the dent is. The bigger the dent, the less durable the outsole. 

Lugs and grip: Best choice for summer hikes

Which tread pattern and lug depth you need depends on the terrain of your hikes. In the lab, we measure the softness of the outsole rubber, the durability of said rubber and the lug depth. 

We use an HC shore durometer to test the softness of the rubber, then we press a Dremel against it and measure the dent the Dremel has made and, finally, we use a caliper to measure the depth of the lugs.

Outsole hardness, durability and lug depth in hiking shoes

(1) Measuring outsole hardness with an HC durometer, (2) dent our Dremel has made on the outsole (3) measuring the thickness of the lugs with a caliper

Here are our guidelines: 

  1. Choose deeper lugs (4mm and above) if you plan to hike over mud, slush, or similar loose terrain. Lugs that are further apart one from the other are less prone to collecting mud. 
  2. Choose shallower lugs (up to 4 mm) if you plan to do a bit of everything and nothing too demanding. Most likely no mud, no water hiking, etc. They work great on hard-packed trails. 
  3. Shallower lugs are great as a road-to-trail option when you know you’ll cover concrete or asphalt and not just the trail. This usually applies to well-maintained easy trails. 

If you get hiking shoes with huge crampons, keep in mind that they tend to be made of softer rubber. Softer rubber is easier to damage, so you don’t want to wear such shoes on hard surfaces. It’s a perfect recipe for premature wear. 

Note: When it comes to outsole hardness, the lower the number, the softer the rubber. 

How stable are summer hiking shoes?

Breathable uppers tend to be thin and not covered with overlays. Because of this, we are very curious to find out how stable the shoes are. 

Protective overlays and toebumpers in hiking shoes

Hiking shoe with less protection and softer overlays (left) and hiking shoe with a thick rubber toe bumper and many overlays that give the upper more structure (right)

What plays a significant role in stability, next to overlays that make the upper more structured, is the width of the base and the stiffness of the heel counter. In the lab, we measure both. 

We use a caliper to measure the width of the base both at the forefoot and at the heel. Stable hiking shoes have a wide base - both in the heel and in the forefoot. 

Measuring the width of the midsole in hiking shoes

Caliper measurements in RunRepeat lab: forefoot midsole width (left) and heel midsole width (right)

And, we manually squeeze and push the heel counter to assess its stiffness. We give it a rating on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest. Stiffer heel counters keep the heel locked down.

Don’t let the shoes weigh you down

Think about this: it’s summer, your hiking shoes are breezy, your socks are not wet from the sweat, and you’re enjoying the hike a lot. But your feet are more tired than usual. You feel the shoes weighing you down. 

Adidas Terrex Trailmaker Weight

To avoid this, we suggest looking for lightweight summer hiking shoes. We measure every hiking shoe that goes through the lab, and these are the results:

If lightweight hiking shoes are your cup of tea, you might enjoy the nitpicking we covered in this guide: Best lightweight hiking shoes

Nail the fit in your summer hiking shoes

The rules for buying summer hiking shoes are the same as the rules that apply to buying basically any other hiking shoe, when it comes to how the shoes fit. Our guidelines: 

  1. Try the shoes in the afternoon or evening. It’s when natural swelling occurs after the workday and it can somewhat imitate what happens on a hike as well. 
  2. Try the shoes with the socks you’re usually wearing when hiking and use the insoles/orthotics if you have them.
  3. Aim for the perfect fit. Not too tight, definitely not too loose! 
  4. Use the ramp covered with different materials: rocks, artificial grass, etc. Go up and down. Make sure there’s no foot sliding inside the shoes! Hikers prefer having a thumb’s width behind/in front of the foot. 

Salomon-X-Ultra-4-Grip-On-Hike.jpg

Firm or soft: comfort in summer hiking shoes

The softness of the footbed depends on your personal preference and the type of hike you’re planning. We measure the softness of the midsole in hiking shoes using a Shore A durometer. We press its needle into the midsole and the result is a 0-100 number. The lower the number, the softer the midsole. 

merrell-moab-3-cushioning-softness-durometer.JPG

Using a shore A durometer to measure the softness of the midsole in hiking shoes

Softer and more flexible hiking shoes are great for shorter hikes, especially when you want to feel the taste of more natural movement. 

Firmer hiking shoes are great for hikes when you’re backpacking or simply need more stable shoes to keep you safe on the hike (very uneven terrain, for example). 

How can socks help?

Socks play a significant role in hiking. In summer, it’s best to use wool socks, ideally the thin ones, not regular or thick. Wool is great at wicking moisture and preventing odor.

adidas-terrex-ax4-price.JPG

If you have some history of blisters, consider getting compressive socks. They can make your feet feel snugger and more comfortable inside the shoe (plus they could improve circulation). We advise against using cotton. It does not dry out quickly and it retains moisture, making the socks heavy and blister-friendly.

Author
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic
Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.