It isn’t hard to appreciate the benefits of using leather hiking shoes for your adventure. They’re built to protect your feet without adding a lot of weight. This kind of footwear is also easier to use for your hike than the best pair of backpacking boots or day hiking boots. When all of these qualities come together, your expectations of a memorable hike has a chance to be exceeded.
Perks of the best men's and women's leather hiking shoes
Encountering critters on the trail or having sharp rocks puncture your gear will definitely end your hike on a bad note. Leather hiking shoes are equipped with sturdy uppers to keep your feet safe from danger. These leather uppers are engineered to resist abrasion and keep your feet safe from sharp edges.
When used with textile fabric or a set of mesh panels, excessive heat and moisture inside the gear can be dispersed while you move. This upper design can prevent your feet from smelling bad or from sweat building up inside. Should you feel that this footwear type isn’t sufficient for your trip, you might want to see our leather hiking boots page for a more protective pair.
There will always be a possibility of hiking through various wet trail conditions on your trip. There are leather hiking shoes built to keep your feet dry so you can keep going on your hike. These hikers use a combination of leather and a waterproof liner to counter the elements. Select leather hiking shoes with Gore-Tex membranes represent a competent option when it comes to water protection.
Leather is a material known for its durability. Its inclusion into this type of footwear grants a level of robustness and longevity. As compared with textile fabric, leather is harder to pierce and can hold its own against most kinds of harsh trail conditions. Premium leather hiking shoes present a balanced choice between lightness and sturdiness, making it a popular choice among day hikers. Although this type of footwear can be pricey, it can certainly bring more value because of its impressive resistance to damage and constant exposure to the elements.
Materials used in the finest leather hiking shoes for men and women
Full-grain leather is widely recognized as the toughest among its kind. Leather hiking shoes that use this kind of upper offer an impressive level of resistance to wear and tear. The material itself is sourced from the calfskin’s exterior portion and isn’t sanded during the tanning process. The outcome is a piece of leather that doesn’t have any imperfection on its surface. Therefore, full-grain leather hiking shoes are more durable against abrasions and resistant to water. There are certain men’s leather hiking shoes that use this type of material to come up with a sturdy and stylish pair.
Split-grain leather is created when the calfskin’s underside is taken and refined. As compared with full-grain leather, which uses the calfskin’s top layer, split-grain leather is less durable and weaker against the elements. While this may be the case, split-grain leather has lesser flaws and a more uniform aesthetic in its final form.
The calfskin’s inner layer is used to make suede leather. It’s sanded down to produce a smoother and cleaner product used in your leather hiking shoes. Among all the leather variants, suede is noticeably less resistant to water and weaker against damage. On the positive side, suede leather hiking shoes exude a distinct look while being more affordable than premium leather footwear. Select women’s leather hiking shoes use this material to achieve a unique style for female adventurers.
A piece of nubuck leather is constructed from the calfskin’s outer layer. It is sanded during the tannery process to give it a smoother look. As compared with full-grain leather, the nubuck’s surface has imperfections on it. Leather manufacturers often dye and stain this material to come up with a cleaner product. Most leather hiking shoes for women and men use this material as it offers a good balance between price, weight, and durability.
Synthetic leather is produced when raw materials from the earth are treated with polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane. This goes against authentic leather which is created from animal skin, making it more efficient. Synthetic leather hiking shoes are durable enough for outdoor use but nowhere near the impressive sturdiness of real leather.
Frequently asked questions about the best leather hiking shoes
How can I preserve the quality of my leather hiking shoes?
Your pair of leather hiking shoes needs to be maintained properly so it can serve you for a long time. Here are a couple of tips to make sure your gear is kept in good working condition.
Get a soft-bristled brush to wipe away all traces of dirt and mud on your leather hiking shoes.
Remove your shoe’s laces and footbed so you can access those hard-to-reach areas better.
Rinse your leather hiking shoes under running water. You can use a mild detergent solution to thoroughly clean your hikers.
While your leather hiking shoes are still damp, you can apply a conditioning product on the upper. This solution will help preserve the leather portions of the upper and prevent them from cracking.
After washing your pair, you should leave them in a well-ventilated spot to dry. Never place your leather hiking shoes near a direct source of heat as it will affect its quality.
What’s the advantage of leather hiking shoes over other types of outdoor footwear?
Leather hiking shoes are the main footwear option when it comes to ankle flexibility. Although the best day hiking boots or the most capable backpacking boots in the market offer more in terms of protection and support, this kind of gear helps you adjust your footing over uneven terrain.
Another advantage leather hiking shoes have over the finest hiking boots is lightness. Since its low-cut design requires lesser materials to construct, these hikers enjoy a reduction in weight over its mid-cut or high-cut counterparts. The use of textile or mesh fabric with leather also helps lessen the weight of these shoes. Wear the most capable pair of winter hiking boots or backpacking boots out there, and you’ll immediately notice the weight difference.
15 best leather hiking shoes
Columbia SH/FT OutDry Mid
Oboz Sawtooth II Low
Columbia Ivo Trail
Hoka One One Tor Ultra Low WP JP
Danner Trail 2650
Merrell Chameleon 7 Stretch
Merrell Moab 2 GTX
Merrell Moab FST 2
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
Merrell Alverstone Waterproof
Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX
Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.