6 best light hiking boots

Based on reviews from 56 experts and 564 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to light hiking boots. Updated Sep 2019.

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If you’re leaning towards a less stressful outdoor experience, a pair of light hiking boots should be considered as your primary footwear option. This gear is specifically crafted for those shorter and less demanding trails. With this kind of environment, it only makes sense to leave your heavy and stiff hikers at home and go with these boots. They still provide adequate protection, grip, and support to help you in this kind of terrain.

When to wear light hiking boots

Best light hiking boots

Best light hiking boots - May 2019

Getting the appropriate footwear for a light hike contributes to the overall success of this activity. Otherwise, you will encounter several difficulties while you’re outdoors. Shown below are some conditions that are ideal for light hiking boots.

A shorter trail. A light hike entails a trail that doesn’t need a full day to complete. You won’t even have to spend a significant portion of a single day to reach the trail’s end and back to the place where you started. This shorter distance compliments the less-durable construction of light hiking boots.

Minimal trail obstacles. Going on a light hike means there are fewer challenges you’re going to face. The environment here is marked by flat terrain with no sign of uphill or downhill conditions. You’ll also be safer when tackling this terrain because there’s a small chance you’ll encounter critters, slippery surfaces, sharp rocks, or exposed tree roots along the way.

Fair weather and fewer wet trail conditions. Taking a light hike should be done under good weather conditions. There should also be minimal wet trail obstacles on your path. Although the best light hiking boots are equipped with waterproof liners, they are not designed to handle prolonged exposure to rain or being submerged in puddles. If you’re expecting unpredictable weather or wading through streams on your upcoming trip, the safest choice is to use waterproof hiking boots or backpacking boots.

When should I not go with my light hiking boots?

Before setting out, it’s best to determine what kind of terrain you’re going to face. If your excursion is going to take up the majority of a single day, it’s best to go with a pair of day hiking boots. These hikers are better suited to handle rougher conditions over an extended period of time.

If your excursion is going to exceed a full day, wearing backpacking boots is a must. This type of gear offers more support, a quality that will come in handy when carrying a backpack. This footwear also grants a significant upgrade over light hiking boots regarding traction, durability, and protection.

Taking a hike in an environment filled with snow or ice using your light hiking boots can lead to disastrous results. For one, this gear isn’t equipped with layers of insulation to keep your foot warm. Its outsole is also not designed to handle slippery surfaces or frigid temperatures. Donning a pair of winter hiking boots is the ideal option because its construction is engineered to combat cold weather conditions and supply the traction you need in this terrain.

Benefits of wearing the finest light hiking boots

Additional support. Although a light hike is easier than other kinds of outdoor activities, there’s still a chance you might roll your ankles. The gear’s upper wraps around your ankle and provides it with extra support. Light hiking boots with ankle support will also be handy if you decide to carry a backpack.

Easy to break in. A majority of new footwear models, like backpacking boots, need to be broken in before being used outdoors. In contrast, most light hiking boots can be worn straight out of the box. This footgear uses more flexible materials, such as EVA midsoles, negating the need for a break-in period.

Enhanced grip. Whether it’s an easy trail or one filled with challenging ground conditions, you will still need all the grip you can get from your footwear. Light hiking boots come with outsoles that contain an aggressive tread pattern to keep your footing secure. This component is necessary, so you won’t slip while you’re out on a light hike.

Notable brands that carry light hiking boots

Danner. Some of the brand’s light hiking boots for men and women are built using a classic construction method. One example is the Danner Ridge. Its full-grain leather upper is stitched to a unified platform, consisting of a midsole, shank, and a lasting board. The gear also possesses a Gore-Tex membrane to prevent water from getting in.

Mammut. The Nova III Mid GTX is one of the mid-cut light hiking boots Mammut crafted for female adventurers. It features the brand’s patented Rolling Concept technology which supports and cushions the foot’s natural rolling movement to reduce fatigue and prevent ankle twisting.

Adidas. The Adidas Terrex Tivid Mid CP is among the light hiking boots offered by this footwear brand. The gear’s waterproof textile upper, EVA midsole, and grippy Traxion outsole are engineered for outdoor enthusiasts planning to go on a light hike.

Zamberlan. One of Zamberlan’s light hiking boots, the 491 Trackmaster GTX RR, features a durable Italian Perwanger leather upper lined with a Gore-Tex membrane. The gear’s upper also contains soft fabric collars to provide your ankle with sufficient support.

Guide to getting the best shoe for light hiking

Choosing a new pair of light hiking boots to wear for your excursion can be a daunting task if you have no idea where to start. Apart from the terrain you’re going to explore, you have to consider the features you need in a boot and its corresponding fit as well. In finding the best light hiking boots, you need to answer these following questions:

How demanding is my hike going to be?

Knowing what kind of terrain you’re tackling beforehand can help you choose the right gear. If the trail involved won’t take much time to traverse and there are minimal challenges along the way, you can opt to wear light hiking boots. Anything beyond those conditions can be detrimental if you wear this kind of gear. In that scenario, you should upgrade your choice to a pair of day hiking boots or backpacking boots.

Do I need waterproof light hiking boots?

Before purchasing new light hiking boots, it would be best to know if you’ll encounter rainy weather or wet trail conditions on your trip. Some of the water-related challenges you might face are streams, puddles of mud, or wet grass, among others. If there is a chance you’ll go up against these difficulties, using a waterproof boot for light hiking should be considered.

On the other hand, you’re better off wearing light hiking boots without any waterproof membrane if the weather is good and there are fewer wet trail obstacles to overcome. Since these hikers don’t have an additional layer embedded within the upper, their breathability is better.

Am I going to carry a backpack during my light hike?

Bringing along a backpack can be handy, especially if you need several outdoor essentials for your trip. If this is the case, you might be spending more time outdoors. Since a light hike isn’t as demanding regarding time, bringing along a backpack might be unnecessary. Although light hiking boots support the additional weight this gear contributes, it won’t be much use if your hike is done in less than a day. If it takes longer, you’re better off with day hiking boots.

Where can I buy new light hiking boots?

There are two ways in which you can get light boots for your hike. The first option you should consider is visiting the nearest outdoor gear store to personally try a pair on. If there’s no way for you to visit a shop, you can check out various online stores or footwear manufacturers for the model you want. Browse these shops, and you’ll find a wide assortment of light hiking boots for men and women.

Once you have confirmed your order, your new light hiking boots will be shipped to your location. The downside to this option is you might receive a defective pair. When this happens, you need to know more about the manufacturer or online store’s return policy to help you get the light hiking boots you want.

Frequently asked questions about the best light hiking boots

What’s the edge of hiking sandals over light hiking boots?

One type of gear you can wear during a light hike is a pair of hiking sandals. Since you won’t be on the trail for too long, this footwear can work to your advantage. Thanks to their open-toe design, they are more comfortable to wear during warm weather. These sandals are also better than light hiking boots if you want to be more agile on your hike because they weigh less and don’t restrict your ankles.

How do men’s light hiking boots differ from those for women?

The primary difference between light hiking boots for men and women is the last used. A man’s foot is larger in size and volume than that of a woman. There are some footwear brands that offer the same last for both genders while some create a pair specifically crafted for female hikers. An example of the latter is the Mammut Nova III Mid GTX.

Can I wear my light hiking boots in a casual setting?

It depends on the kind of light hiking boot you’re going to get. Several light hikers are stylish enough to pass off as a normal pair for your daily routine while some may look too bulky. Vintage-inspired hiking boots, such as the Danner Ridge, has the look for casual uses and the footwear qualities needed for a light hike.

What should I keep in mind about my toenails when getting new women’s light hiking boots?

Keep in mind that your toes should never hit the footwear’s front end under any circumstances. There should be enough spaces for your toes to wiggle in. Otherwise, your heel might slip forward and hurt your toes in the process. What you can do is get light hiking boots half a size bigger to prevent your toes from hurting. You can also trim your toenails so they won’t needlessly hit the boot’s toebox when you’re out hiking.

3 best light hiking boots

  1. Vasque Inhaler II GTX
  2. Adidas Terrex Tivid Mid CP
  3. Asolo Megaton Mid GV
Author
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Paul Ronto

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.

paul@runrepeat.com
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