7 best light hiking shoes

Based on reviews from 13 experts and 292 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to light hiking shoes. Updated Sep 2019.

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A pair of light hiking shoes will serve you well if the trail you’re going to explore isn’t physically demanding. This kind of activity is shorter than that of a day hike, and there are fewer trail obstacles to overcome. As such, these terrain conditions negate the need for stiff and burly footwear. These low-cut shoes are capable of providing sufficient performance while you go light hiking. Some of the best light hiking shoes even offer enough protection from abrasion and the elements. If you’re into a less stressful and shorter outdoor experience, these light hiking shoes should be an option to consider.

When to use your light hiking shoes

Best light hiking shoes

Best light hiking shoes - May 2019

Using the right gear is important in any outdoor activity. The same can be said if you’re planning to go on a light hike. Generally, light hiking means the trail you’re going to explore can be achieved in less than a day. At the same time, the terrain won’t be as tiring as a day hike. This means there are fewer obstacles, such as steep slopes and exposed tree roots, along the way. You’ll also be hiking under fair weather, and most wet trail conditions are absent in this type of hike. If this is the terrain you’re going to traverse, a pair of light hiking shoes will suffice.

Structure of the best light hiking shoes

Low-cut shoes for light hikes are built with a certain set of qualities for easy trails. They also come with various technologies to help you achieve optimal performance and protection in this type of outdoor activity. Shown below are some common traits found in the best light hiking shoes.

Upper construction. Several brands offer light hiking shoes with synthetic uppers while other companies provide leather variants of this footwear type. A majority of light hikers feature a low-top design with a classic closure system. These qualities all work together to deliver sturdiness, agility, and customized lockdown.

Cushioning. Most light hiking shoes are equipped with midsoles made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). This component works in tandem with the gear’s footbed to create a cushioned and responsive ride.

Waterproofness. Select low-cut shoes for light hikers come with a waterproof membrane lining the upper. This component helps improve water protection while keeping the gear breathable during a warm hike.

Some footwear companies that sell light hiking shoes

Mammut. The brand's Nova III Low GTX features a number of components and technologies designed for light hiking. Its Terracare leather upper contains a Gore-Tex membrane for breathable protection against water. The shoe's ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole works in tandem with a Vibram Frog outsole to deliver agility, stability, and durable traction.

Adidas. The Terrex Tivid is an Adidas shoe designed for light hikers. The gear’s Ripstop upper is paired with suede overlays to improve its durability. Its EVA midsole works in tandem with a rubber outsole to render traction and cushioning.

Oboz. Weighing in at 437 grams, the Oboz Livingston Low delivers a set of qualities ideal for light hiking. The shoe’s water-resistant nubuck leather upper grants robustness while its Sawtooth outsole supplies grip. A nylon shank is embedded in the footwear’s dual-density EVA midsole to provide stability and rigidity.

Salomon. Among the light hiking shoes Salomon offers is the OUTpath GTX. The footwear’s synthetic upper has a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort liner, boosting its waterproofness. Its Contagrip outsole is engineered to grip on virtually all types of surfaces. The shoe’s Quicklace closure system grants a secure and personalized fit with one simple pull.

Aku. One of the light hiking shoes Aku sells is the Libra GTX. The low-cut gear’s welded PU film upper features Air 8000 technology to make it breathable. Its double-density EVA midsole creates a cushioned ride with the shoe’s Tentuta outsole keeps you stable on uneven ground conditions.

Asolo. The Pipe GV is an example of an Asolo light hiking shoe. It features a sturdy upper made of suede and polyester. The Vibram outsole’s tread pattern is geared towards durability while the footgear’s Gore-Tex Extended Comfort liner offers protection from various wet trail conditions.

The pros and cons of light hiking shoes

Advantages

Lightweight construction. Going on a light hike means you won’t be spending a lot of time to finish a trail or encountering numerous obstacles along the way. A pair of light hiking shoes use a less-durable construction that can handle this type of terrain. As such, the materials used in this gear don’t add a lot of weight to your foot since you won’t hike in it for an extended period of time.

Ankle flexibility. The low-cut upper design of a light hiking shoe affords your ankle more room to move. With this benefit, you can position your foot according to the various ground conditions you may encounter during a hike. This means you can test the limits of your ankle to overcome obstacles, such as exposed tree roots, uneven terrain, or slippery rocks.

Disadvantages

Reduced protection. By design, low-cut light hiking shoes leave your ankles exposed. No matter how tough the upper material is, your ankle is still subjected to sharp edges or critters. If your hike is full of obstacles, there’s a big chance you might sustain a wound that can end your trip on a bad note.

Even with the inclusion of a waterproof membrane, water can still easily enter your light trail hiking shoes. Whether you decide to hike through a stream or a sudden rainstorm, using this type of gear won’t provide ample protection from these wet trail conditions.

Lack of ankle support. Another disadvantage brought by a hiking shoe’s low-cut upper is its lack of support to the ankles. This shortcoming becomes evident if you carry a backpack while traversing through uneven ground conditions. The added weight on your back is going to place some stress on your ankles, leading them to roll or twist the wrong way.

Fit and sizing

Attaining a precise fit from your light hiking shoes should be prioritized when you’re buying a new pair. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of experiencing blisters or sustaining an injury during your hike. Shown below are some important tips that can help you get a good fit from your light hikers.

  • If you choose to purchase light hiking shoes online, you need to determine your foot’s size. Get a measuring device to determine the length of your foot. Most footwear companies have guides on their respective websites to help you match the measurement to its corresponding size.
  • Wear your hiking socks before you personally try on a new pair in a store. A sock adds a little girth to your foot. Wearing one helps you get an actual fit.
  • After lacing the shoe up, walk around for a few minutes. Your toes should have enough space to move around. Also, your heel should not lift when making a step. If these two requirements aren’t met, blisters might form on your foot.
  • The best time to try new light hiking shoes is during the afternoon when your foot swells a little. Doing so will help you get a better fit.

Men’s light hiking shoes

Several footwear manufacturers offer light hiking shoes for men in a range of whole and half sizes. These models mostly come in standard width. Also these shoes for light hiking run fairly true to size, with some options granting a narrow fit.

Women’s light hiking shoes

Women’s light hiking shoes are mostly available in regular width. These footwear products from various outdoor brands are sold in standard and half-sizes. These light hikers run generally true to their size while some models offer a slimmer fit.

Frequently asked questions about the best light hiking shoes

How can I keep my light hiking shoes in good working condition?

Your hiking gear needs to be cleaned after each trip to preserve its quality. Shown below are several tips on how to clean your light hiking shoes.

3 best light hiking shoes

  1. Adidas Terrex Tivid
  2. Asolo Megaton GV
  3. Asolo Nucleon 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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