10 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes in 2021
Some hikes are ruined with even light rain or morning dew. Not to mention rain showers. Your feet get soaked, cold, even blisters appear. That’s where waterproof hiking shoes enter the scene.
To help you get the best shoe on the market, we have tested more than 80 pairs of waterproof hiking shoes. Are you buying one for backpacking, speed hiking, or some moderate day hikes? We’ve got a top pick for each of these categories.
And if you want to learn more about the levels of waterproofing or why Gore-Tex is so popular, scroll to our guide below the top picks.
Overview of this guide
- 1. How we review waterproof hiking shoes
- 2. Best overall
- 3. Best for backpacking
- 4. Best for speed hiking
- 5. Best comfort
- 6. Best budget shoe
- 7. Features of waterproof hiking shoes
- 8. 4 things to pay attention to when buying hiking shoes
- 9. Waterproof membrane limits
- 10. Waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant: explanation
- 11. GORE-TEX membrane testing process
- 12. How to clean waterproof hiking shoes
- 13. Which shoes will always keep my feet dry?
- 14. How do I prevent water from entering my shoes?
How we review waterproof hiking shoes
- We gathered and read reviews from 234 experts and 25,309 users
- We eliminated spam and added more weight to the reviews of proven experts
- Thanks to our CoreScore, we’ve created a collection of more than 130 waterproof hiking shoes
- This collection can be sorted by popularity, ratings, discounts
We can’t say this intensely enough: The X Ultra 4 GTX from Salomon is the real deal!
Wearing this waterproof hiker through puddles and shallow creaks was fun. Not a single drop was let in by the shoe’s GTX-lined upper. We even stood in a flooded section of the trail for about five whole minutes, and nothing—our feet came out completely moisture-free!
Comfort (on day one) was in great supply in the X Ultra 4 GTX in our entire escapade as well. Out of the 100-something climbing shoes we’ve tested, we are through-the-roof positive that this watertight wonder is the absolute best.
There is no competing with its genius of an outsole either. Whether on loam, mud, or loose soil, its Contagrip lugs planted our feet in full force.
“A pair of trail runners” is how we would describe the X Ultra 4 GTX in the lightness category (it’s less than 400 g a shoe).
Its combination of incredible stability and support was also among the highlights of our trail adventures. Gnarly roots and uneven terrain didn’t faze this beast. Indeed, we felt like we were walking on level terrain in the X Ultra 4 GTX. Get one now!
Do you hate getting drenched on your hikes? Fight back with the La Sportiva Spire GTX!
At first, we were kinda skeptical about its GTX-lined semi-mesh upper. We shouldn’t have doubted this bad boy, as we didn’t get wet feet through this shallow stream we traipsed through. We used it in the rain for 10 minutes, give or take, and the Spire GTX blocked every drop!
Equally impressive as its no-leak shell is the Spire GTX’s satisfyingly plush interior. We didn’t feel the need to break it in pre-hike; it was mighty comfy right from the get-go. Its fantastic breathability contributed to its overall supply of comfort if we might add.
Similar to our top pick (the X Ultra 4 GTX), the La Sportiva Spire GTX is quite the force of nature in the areas of support and stability, as well. We were particularly floored by how much footing we’ve secured on this extremely rocky part of the trail. Our legs didn’t get tired throughout our journey!
If there’s one criticism we can pin on the Spire GTX, it would have to be its high asking price. Still, if this is available to you and our top pick is not, grab it. You won’t regret it!
Best for backpacking
Fantastic! The Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is what we highly recommend for multi-day outings in wet conditions.
On the comfort front, we really have nothing bad to say about this waterproof shoe. We didn’t have time to break this in, but it turned out we didn’t need to—it was amazingly comfy right from the start. Props to its plush-but-supportive midsole, too; we experienced no pain whatsoever after a full day of hiking with a loaded pack!
Now, about its toothy outsole, we can confidently say that the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is a force to be reckoned with. Out of the tons of trail kicks we’ve tested, we find this trekking shoe the stickiest, especially on rocky terrain.
The breathable Mountain Trainer Lite GTX also wowed us with its lightness. At no more than 900 g a pair, the shoe made us feel as if we were in some fancy sneakers most of the time.
While not a climbing shoe, the Mountain Trainer Lite GTX helped us ascend low elevations with great confidence. Tiptoeing on it was very convincing, even while our backpacks were fully loaded!
The OUTward GTX is something you need to have in your backpacking arsenal.
Its sticking prowess impressed us greatly, especially on moist slopes. We trampled on sandy and rocky terrain, too, and the OUTward GTX gripped its way like a real champ.
We couldn’t find the time to break in this Salomon offering, but we didn’t have to—it was mighty plush on day one. On this front, we have to give its springy midsole major props. It pampered our feet non-stop as if we weren’t carrying a loaded pack!
Now, the Salomon OUTward GTX is very sturdy. Its plush mid-top collar gave us more than enough support and helped us cross rugged terrain safely.
As for its waterproofing, the OUTward GTX kept our tootsies moisture-free throughout our trekking escapades. Its mid-height ankle cuff also held back water valiantly when we had to cross some three-inch-deep creek.
It’s virtually as light as our top pick, too, giving us the boost we needed over level terrain and inclines alike.
As a bonus, the OUTward GTX is about $10 cheaper than our top pick. We just wish it’s just as breathable.
Best for speed hiking
If moving fast in wet conditions is what you are after, you can’t go wrong with the Salomon OUTline GTX!
Let’s get lightness out of the way first. At about 700 g a pair, the OUTline GTX felt like a pair of plush sneakers or tennis shoes on our tootsies.
In the area of comfort, the Salomon OUTline GTX pampered our feet practically on day one. Its GTX-lined upper didn’t give us any blisters, whether or not we had socks on. We also didn’t encounter any hotspots in it. Amazing!
Now, how about the OUTline GTX’s waterproofing, you might ask? Exceptional! You see, moisture didn’t get inside the shoe during the entirety of our speedy journey. Through wet grass, we noticed that the droplets just beaded off it. Yup, this speed hiker is watertight.
All its magnificence in waterproofing is fine and all, but let’s not leave out the shoe’s ability to keep stuffiness in check. Indeed, throughout our fast hikes, its interior remained well-ventilated. With that, we can proudly say the OUTline GTX is among the most breathable Gore-Tex kicks out there.
We are confident that you will also be stunned wearing this, so buy a pair quick!
Adidas is not alien to speed, and with the Terrex Swift R2 GTX, we were able to complete our trail adventures at record speeds minus the drench.
Lighter than our top pick by a hair, the Terrex Swift R2 GTX gave us the confidence to go further. It’s true—we breezed across moderately rugged terrain quicker than ever in this Adidas hiker.
We want to give credit where credit is due: The Terrex Swift R2 GTX is watertight! Moisture couldn’t invade this bad boy, and striding past several puddles didn’t give us wet feet. Do note, however, that water can still get in if the stream or creek you are planning to traipse through is more than three inches deep!
Comfort-wise, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX is remarkable, and on day one at that. We used it right away, and the feeling we got in it was like wearing a broken-in pair. The main highlights in this regard are the shoe’s plush heel and no-pinch toe box.
Its midsole could be cushier, but past that, we have no complaints. Go get your own Terrex Swift R2 GTX now!
Wow! Merrell has knocked it out of the park once again with the Moab 2 GTX!
Let’s talk about its supply of comfort first and foremost. The Moab 2 GTX is instantly comfortable. The padding, the liner, the conforming fit—they all worked together to pamper our feet on day one. And before we forget, the shoe’s stock footbed contributed greatly to all the plushness present in this hiker!
We love its sturdy leather shell. We got tons of midfoot support out of it. The shoe’s midsole also gave us a secure platform over roots and pointy rocks.
Virtually, the star of the show in the Moab 2 GTX is its Gore-Tex liner. Inside the shoe’s leather-slash-mesh upper, our tootsies stayed dry. We tested this Merrell hiker several times where puddles were aplenty, and not a single drop wound up inside the shoe!
Oh, the Moab 2 GTX’s sole unit made us instant Merrell believers. On it, we felt like we were simply gliding on level terrain with its moderately rockered heel and toe zones.
Do you wish to hike confidently and rack up more miles than before? Then gear up with the KEEN Targhee II.
Through mud and muck, the Targhee II stood by us without letting up. Not a single droplet seeped inside it, leaving our pampered feet fresh and moisture-free.
As for comfort, the Targhee II gave us a ton. Its sufficiently padded interior and plush footbed did their job well. That said, we had to spend some time to fully break in this KEEN hiker.
Indestructible is how we would describe the Targhee II (or maybe even tank-like) on the longevity front. After several long hikes, we found only shallow dents and light smudges on its upper. Yes, its leather shell can take a serious beating like a horse!
The KEEN Targhee II also impressed us with its aggressively lugged outsole. On mud and gravel, whether going uphill or downhill, the shoe in question kept our feet planted. We then took it to the city and used it on wet pavement—no slippage at all!
If you are a fan of KEEN and wet conditions drive you nuts, reached out for this!
Best budget shoe
Oh, the Columbia Crestwood! What can we say? This hiking shoe, at $80 a pop, is a must-buy!
For its price, the Crestwood is hard to say no to. What we mean is, not a lot of hiking shoes that provide water protection are as affordable as this Columbia offering. Speaking of waterproofing, what it got is great. Its hybrid of an upper kept our feet dry through wet grass and shallow puddles.
Now, when it comes to durability, the Crestwood is nothing to be sneezed at. After making our way across root-filled tracks and rocky sidehills, its upper remained dent-less. We give its leather overlays extra props in this regard!
The Crestwood didn’t fail to amaze us in the comfort department, either. We dare say that it’s the perfect companion on light hikes and a plush substitute for everyday walking sneakers.
Another impressive thing about the Columbia Crestwood is its toe cap. Made of rubber, this tough bumper protected our toes from bumpy hazards (think camouflaged gnarly roots and half-sunk rocks).
As for its grip level, the Crestwood offered much. Its treaded outsole kept us surefooted on well-maintained trails and city pavements alike.
A hiking shoe imbued with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, at no more than $100? Yes!
The budget-priced OUTbound GTX is, without a doubt, among the most affordable Gore-Tex hikers on the market. That said, we are as floored about its asking price as about its waterproofing. Muddy creeks and puddles didn’t deter us—we powered through them without a single seepage.
Speaking of muscling our way across rough terrain, the OUTbound GTX kept our arches supported magnificently. The uneven parts of the trail, at first, made us feel unsure, but the shoe helped us remain on our feet.
At roughly 300 g per shoe, the OUTbound GTX got us going further and with greater agility. Featherweight would be the perfect description for this Salomon bad boy!
As far as comfiness is concerned, the Salomon OUTbound GTX made us happy, BUT not right away. Yes, this hiking shoe requires a break-in period (about a full week of short hikes we’d say). From there, though, pure comfort is yours.
The OUTbound GTX is also quite breathable. We hiked for half a day in the sun, and our tootsies didn’t break a sweat!