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Breathable hiking shoes are now becoming a go-to option of outdoorsy people. These low-cut hikers are often made of light materials that make them suitable for use in hot, arid hikes. Almost all footwear brands offer ventilated shoes to cater to a much broader audience seeking optimal trail comfort.
While brands do offer breathable shoes with a waterproof liner, remember that ventilation is impeded to a certain degree when such component is present. Therefore, our best breathable hiking shoes list (seen above) will only show products without a waterproof liner.
What makes a hiking shoe breathable?
Basically, the breathability of a shoe for hiking depends on the material used in its upper. A majority of brands have experimented on the combination of materials they can use to create a well-ventilated yet protective upper. A few examples are listed below.
Synthetic or a combination of synthetic and textile
Leather with mesh vents
The above materials are usually paired with hydrophobic, breathable or moisture-wicking liners. A combination of these items often creates lightweight hikers. Additionally, some styles come with TPU overlays or synthetic toe rand for added durability and protection, without limiting the breathability of the shoe.
Perks of wearing breathable men's and women's hiking shoes
Best breathable hiking shoes - May 2019
Wearing hiking shoes that breathe is your gateway to maximizing your enjoyment on and off the trail. Most non-waterproof products are made of quick-drying materials that will still allow you to perform even after wet encounters.
Needless to say, this is the primary benefit of wearing ventilated hiking shoes. You want your foot to breathe and not be suffocated by the shoe’s confines.
Outdoor lovers appreciate most breathable hiking shoes because they are lightweight. The combination of materials used ensures that protection and durability are not sacrificed even after shaving off a lot of weight.
The least weight you carry on your feet, the more comfortable you are on the trail. This benefit is a bonus when you opt to wear a breathable hiking shoe.
On the other hand, what are the things you need to ponder on when you prefer wearing a hiking shoe with light upper materials? Considering the materials used in creating this type of footwear, using it in less rugged conditions can help extend its life. Those extremely harsh conditions may require hiking boots made of leather as they provide a more robust level of protection.
Some of the best breathable hiking shoes for men and women
Keen Targhee Vent
This highly breathable hiking shoe from Keen offers optimal breathability through the mesh panels placed in between the leather. It has reinforced eyelets for easy adjustment and to avoid adding extra weight on the user’s foot. An injected TPU heel capture system aids in stability. Underfoot, a couple of features take care of support: an ESS shank and a resilient, internal shank.
Adidas Terrex AX2R
This versatile hiking shoe from Adidas wears a synthetic textile upper which promotes flexibility and protection on the trails. It employs the Traxion outsole for surface traction in almost all types of terrain. This shoe offers more ankle mobility, thanks to its below-the-ankle design and flexible style.
Merrell Moab Edge 2
Merrell designers use a vast range of materials in creating their hiking products. They have waterproof shoes, ventilated hikers and insulated boots, to name a few. The Merrell Moab Edge 2 is one of their known offerings which has a mesh and TPU upper. Its bellows tongue helps keep debris out. The upright extension of the sole at the toe area adds extra protection so users need not worry when going on a rocky, strenuous hike.
This low-cut hiking shoe from Vasque offers stability, comfort and protection. Its suede upper comes with a molded rubber toe cap for trail protection. Its soft collar foam and moisture-wicking lining provide a cozy feel. It also employs the brand-owned Off the Grip sole unit which is comprised of a compression-molded EVA midsole for cushioning, a TPU heel stabilizer for steadiness and a multi-lugged rubber outsole for traction.
Salomon X Ultra 3
Salomon’s products are known for their lightness and durability. The Salomon X Ultra 3 is just one of their many known shoes for hiking. It has an upper made of a combination of mesh and synthetic textile with overlays for added durability. Its toe box is also designed with a rubberized layer which boosts protection on rocky grounds. Facilitating a speedy fit adjustment is the brand’s very own Quicklace closure system. Under the foot, it uses the Advanced Chassis which works with the shoe’s EVA midsole in creating a cushioned and stable ride. A Contagrip outsole, on the other hand, makes it grip on almost all terrain types. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is the waterproof version of this hiking shoe.