7 Best Day Hiking Boots in 2024

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
7 Best Day Hiking Boots in 2024
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Whether you’ve just decided to start your hiking journey or planning a multi-day hike with your friends, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of great quality day hiking boots that we have examined in our lab. For this guide, we feature the best-rated models we recommended after hiking thousands of miles across all sorts of terrain.

From high-cut style to mid and low-cut models, there’s a perfect fit for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, campers, and backpackers from top brands like Lowa, Danner, KEEN, and Adidas. Whatever day hiking adventure you’re going on, these hikers provide you with that comfort, protection, and extra support you need.  

With tonnes of superb options out there, picking the right pair can be mind-boggling. To save you time, we’ve tested day hiking boots while wearing them on the trails and after cutting them in half in our lab. And then, we ranked them accordingly. Take a look at the outstanding picks we found!

How we test hiking boots

All the hiking boots in our database are carefully examined inside the RunRepeat shoe testing lab. We take note of the materials, weight, arch support, and other features of the footwear. We then head out to the great outdoors and report back with our first-hand assessments.

To make the selections, we do the following:

  • We buy the day hiking boots from our own pocket. This makes sure that our top rankings and comprehensive reviews are devoid of any bias.
  • We wear the boots on our next-day hiking excursions to test their real-life performance and value. We check each model’s comfort level, break-in time, traction, stability, and many more.
  • We further gather more useful data by quantifying the parameters of the shoes. We are dedicated to excavating facts and evidence so we test the shoes to the fullest extent by tearing them apart and viewing their interior.

Best day hiking boots overall

What makes it the best?

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX cruised through our test hikes and passed our lab tests with flying colours. , and we subsequently crowned it the best overall boot for day hiking. Unbelievably lightweight, waterproof, and with a superbly grippy outsole, these versatile kicks are our go-to hiking boots for long day hikes.

Our wet hikes proved to us just how well the GoreTex is implemented in this boot. We even submerged them in water almost up to our ankles, but they didn’t let a drop of water in! The mid-height collar and gusseted tongue both have a role to play in this, and they play it well!

What really makes these shoes stand out above the rest is their insanely light weight. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX manages an excellent GoreTex-to-weight ratio. On the scales, these boots weighed an astounding 14.5 oz (412g), which is 36% lighter than the average waterproof hiking boot! On our hikes, this translates to fresher feet for longer days!

The chevron design of the Contragrip sole wins us over every time, and we can confidently tackle steep uphills and downhills, knowing these boots will hold us steady. We measured the lug depth at 5.1 mm, 0.7 mm deeper than average. In addition, we measured the flexibility of the midsole with a force gauge and found it is 4% more flexible than average. The flex in the sole increases the surface area in contact with the ground, upping the grip. In practice, we can trust these boots on just about anything.

For hikers who prefer a plusher ride, we don’t recommend these boots. We pressed a durometer to the midsole to test for softness and found this boot is 64% harder than average. 

Pros

  • The boot of choice for multi-day hikes
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Excellent grip
  • Supportive midsole
  • Detailed ground feel
  • Great ankle support
  • Protective
  • Perfect lacing system

Cons

  • Midsole may be thin for some
  • Very stiff in colder climates
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Day hiking boots with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX is undoubtedly the number one day hiking boots with the best cushioning. With a midsole that gives our feet a gentle embrace, unrivalled weight in its category, and impressive performance on chilly days, there is more to this boot than meets the eye.

We could shout about the cushioning in the Anacapa Mid GTX from the rooftops! Measuring 22.5 HA with a durometer, it’s much softer than the average 27.9 HA, making for an extremely comfortable ride. We also measured the stack heights in the lab. Both are above average, with the heel measuring 0.5 mm higher than average, and the forefoot measuring 2.3 mm higher than average. What this means in practical terms is more material underfoot to protect our feet from sharp objects.

Since it’s a completely waterproof boot, we might expect the Anacapa Mid GTX to weigh us down, but Hoka have found the perfect balance between impermeability and weight. Weighing in at just 15.4 oz (436g), this boot is a whole 3.5 oz (99g) lighter than our other lab-tested waterproof boots. It’s a great choice for day hikes because our feet still have energy to spare by the end of the day.

We tested the boot for winter use by leaving it in the freezer for 20 minutes before testing it for flexibility. Pushing the boot to 90° with a force gauge, we found it is an incredible 30% more flexible than average! This is a real advantage on cold days since it doesn’t need much breaking in.

The 4.7 mm lugs are deeper than average yet they don’t cut the mustard when it comes to wet granite. We found ourselves slipping on wet days, so we don’t recommend these boots to hikers who regularly hike in this kind of rocky terrain.

Pros

  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Very lightweight
  • Generous and soft cushioning
  • Reliable stability (with a light backpack)
  • Wide platform
  • Flexible forefoot
  • Excellent grip
  • Doesn't get too firm or stiff in cold
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Effective lacing system
  • Sustainable materials

Cons

  • Not supportive with heavy backpacks
  • Upper lacks wear resistance
  • Extended heel catches rocks and roots
  • Not for wide feet
  • Tricky to put on
Full review of Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX

Day hiking boots with the best support

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Trail Code GTX is our best pick for the most supportive day hiking boots for its superior stability, flexibility and sticky outsole. It is a versatile hiking boot that keeps our feet feeling supported and protected all day long.

We found the Trail Code GTX kept our ankles perfectly supported with its high collar and stiff heel counter. We assessed the heel in the lab, rating it as the stiffest 5/5 – that explains why we experienced zero heel slippage, even on the steepest inclines! The wide midsole measures 112.5 mm, around the average, and it provides a stable platform for our feet even on rocky and uneven trails.

Even with all the support provided by this boot, it doesn’t feel bulky or restrictive. In fact, hiking in the Hoka Trail Code GTX feels almost like wearing a running shoe, and that’s down to its impressive flexibility. We pushed it to 90° with a force guage and were amazed to find it measures just 26.1N, compared to the much stiffer average of 43.8N. Such a flexible boot offers a comfortably natural feel to our hikes, which we find perfect for our day hikes.

The grippy outsole sticks on steep, slippery slopes, wet mud and loose gravel with ease. In the lab, we measured the toothy lugs to be 4.7 mm – 0.2 mm deeper than average, which explains their tackiness. We felt confident on varied terrain during our test hikes.

We found the Hoka Trail Code GTX isn’t suitable for hikers with narrow feet. At the widest part of the forefoot, it measures 97 mm, and is 3.4 mm narrower than average. Hikers with wide feet are advised to go half a size up.

Pros

  • Mind-blowingly comfortable
  • Fantastic waterproofing
  • Lighter than average
  • Excellent impact protection
  • Very stable and supportive
  • Superb grip
  • Reflective elements
  • Sustainable materials
  • Head-turning looks

Cons

  • Awkward on descents
  • Not for tough hikes
Full review of Hoka Trail Code GTX

Day hiking boots with the best style

What makes it the best?

From the trails to the streets, we strutted with confidence in the Danner Mountain 600s. With its timeless and classic design, it’s our most stylish day hiking boot. This pair doesn’t sacrifice function for fashion, as it proved to be both comfortable and protective in our actual hikes and rigorous lab tests.

The leather upper served as our shield from water and debris, and our insulation from cold weather. Yet surprisingly, it exceeds the usual breathability rating of waterproof shoes and earns a remarkable 2/5 score in our lab. This means it still provides good ventilation, making it a great year-round companion.

Danner Mountain 600’s midsole has a pleasant pep to it. Our lab reveals we have more than enough foam with its 36.8/23.0 mm stack for gentler landings, with an average 24.3 HA firmness for surefooted strides. Further adding to our stability is its rigid build, which effectively prevents excessive motions and foot fatigue. Our bend test confirms a slightly stiffer-than-average 42.5N.

Unfortunately, its renowned Vibram outsole lacks the grip for wet rocks and ultra-slick surfaces. We found ourselves grasping for branches and walking poles as we passed these surfaces. For more advanced hikers tackling technical terrains, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Pros

  • Supportive
  • Very comfortable, like a running shoe
  • Oustanding grip
  • Durable
  • Feels light
  • Great out of the box
  • Waterproof
  • Awesome for casual use

Cons

  • Debris gets into the boot
  • Not for technical hiking
Full review of Danner Mountain 600

Best leather day hiking boots

Scarpa Terra GTX
95
Superb!

What makes it the best?

It’s hard to beat the stability and protection Scarpa Terra GTX offers. High ground sensitivity, unmatched traction, and weatherproofing abilities tick all of our boxes, leading us to crown this pair as the best leather boots for day hiking.

The upper is tough on the outside and cosy on the inside. Its solid leather is naturally waterproof and our smoke test further confirms its airtight nature, effectively protecting us from cold winds. No matter how many streams we crossed, our feet remained dry at the end of the day. Its robust exterior even serves as our shield against rocks and roots.

The Vibram outsole works perfectly over a variety of terrains we tackled. It proves its durability in the lab, but what’s hard to ignore is its adhesive abilities. Lined with 4-mm thick and multi-directional lugs, we had all the traction and braking power needed to hike confidently.

Terra GTX keeps us closely connected to the ground through its lower-than-average 32.1/17.0 mm stack and its 16.1% firmer-than-average cushion. Both elements serve as our stabilisers on rocky paths and uneven terrains since we can adapt quickly. The mid-cut boot also ensures firm ankle support without pressuring our Achilles. However, because of its focus on stability, the platform may lack the cushioning others prefer for long days.

Pros

  • Glue-like underfoot, even on wet surfaces
  • Insanely comfortable
  • Reliably stable and supportive ride
  • Resilient and high-quality build
  • Durable Vibram outsole
  • Watertight and warm
  • Quick break-in time
  • Performs consistently in the cold
  • Strong ankle support

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Cushioning could be better
  • Scuff magnet
Full review of Scarpa Terra GTX

Best lightweight day hiking boots

What makes it the best?

Taking the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 in our daylong outings is nothing but just a day filled with comfort and support. We found that this is the best lightweight hiking boot to bring to daytime hiking trips because walking in it isn’t taxing at all. Advancing in it is as effortless as it can be!

The Terrex Free Hiker 2 is not the typical hiking boot in the market. Compared to most of its kind, this one is on the sleek side. As expected, lightness comes with its sleekness. And thanks to its 15 oz (425g) construction that is 16.8% lighter than most hiking boots, our hikes are so pleasurable we forget what’s pain like.

Behind our effortless strides is the flexible construction of the Terrex Free Hiker 2. We didn’t have to strain our feet and arches just to take a step. This boot naturally moved with us. This does not equate to flimsiness, though. As a matter of fact, it provided a secure feel on rough trails.

While the boot is flexible, it still necessitates a break-in time. So we do not recommend this for adventurers who prioritise immediate comfort.

Pros

  • Extremely well-cushioned
  • Luxuriously padded interior
  • Grippy and durable lugs
  • Tackles wet surfaces confidently
  • Very flexible and forgiving
  • Excellent airflow
  • Feels incredibly stable underfoot
  • Supportive heel collar
  • Rockered midsole
  • Relatively lightweight
  • High-quality construction
  • Eye-catching design

Cons

  • Needs breaking in
  • Tricky to put on
  • Expensive
Full review of Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2

Best day hiking boots with a wide toebox

What makes it the best?

In our outdoor adventures, the Altra Lone Peak Hiker 2 stands out as the day hiking boot with the best wide toebox. It has an all-natural feel with its light and malleable design that promotes unrestricted movement. It has an exceptional ground feel as an added appeal, boosting our agility and confidence.

Following the natural foot shape, its toebox barely tapers in the big toe area, which we measured at 91.1 mm vs the 79.2 mm average. It accommodates natural toe splay, eliminating any discomfort and hotspots. 

Weighing just 12.0 oz (339g), it's 33.3% lighter than the average. Adding to its airiness is the midsole that flows freely to our strides. Our bend test confirms it's 25.6% more adaptive than average. This high level of flexibility ensures comfort during long hikes.

The ride gives a barefoot feel due to its low and levelled stack. This gave us a lot of surface feedback, allowing us to adapt to uneven terrains. Despite its low 2.6 mm drop, we felt we had ample underfoot cushioning. On top of that, the platform feels soft with some bounce to make the ride more enjoyable. 

While the shoe excels in comfort and agility, its high flexibility may pose challenges on technical terrain, leading to a lack of sure-footedness. We recommend hikers requiring additional stability, especially on rocky terrains, to explore more supportive options.

Pros

  • Exceptionally comfortable
  • Astonishingly lightweight
  • Gives strides a boost
  • Performs consistently in cold conditions
  • Superb durability
  • Supportive around the ankle
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Decent moisture resistance
  • Dries quickly

Cons

  • Subpar grip on technical terrain
  • Underwhelming stability
  • Quite hard to put on and off
Full review of Altra Lone Peak Hiker 2

Most hikers have their “daily driver” pair of boots. That's the one we reach for nine out of ten times when we head out on our local trails. The best daily drivers are often day hiking boots, they’re good enough for the majority of hikes, and for some hikers, they may be the only type of boots you’ll ever need.

Hoka Trail Code GTX review

What is a day hiking boot?

Day hiking boots are, by design, what you imagine when you think of a hiking boot, they're all-rounders and are the perfect boot for many hikers.

What are the features of a day hiking boot?

Designed to provide comfort and support for short hikes, day hiking boots usually have a lightweight construction and have greater cushioning and stability than regular running or walking shoes.

The best day hiking boots find the balance between having sufficient ankle support while still allowing plenty of flexibility in the foot area. They also provide good traction on various surfaces on all but very technical trails.

What conditions do day hiking boots perform best in? 

Day hiking boots are designed to perform on short hikes, typically on relatively flat terrain. The lightweight construction and cushioning make them ideal for hikes like these.

Factors to consider when buying day hiking boots 

As day hiking boots are quite standard boots, there's nothing too specialised to look out for when buying a pair. Just keep in mind the terrain and weather you plan to be in and you'll find a great pair.

Consider the:

  • Fit
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Weight
  • Waterproofing
  • Breathability
  • Traction

A good fit is vital

The best day hiking boots should fit snugly, but not too tight, around your feet and ankles. Your toes shouldn't be cramped or feel squished in the toe box, as this can lead to blisters and general pain.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX Toebox width at the big toe

There should also be enough room for your foot to flex when walking downhill. When shopping for a pair of day hiking boots, make sure you try them on with the socks you intend to wear when hiking as this can make a difference out on the trail.

Make sure you're comfortable on the trail

Your boots should be comfortable as soon as you put them on. They shouldn’t cause any discomfort in the ankle, foot or toes and fit snugly to provide support when walking. The cushioning of the boot should also provide enough support when stepping down onto hard surfaces and shock absorption in the soles will help prevent fatigue on the trail.

Durable boots keep you hiking for longer 

Try to find a pair of day hiking boots that have been constructed with high-quality materials that will last through multiple hikes. The material should be waterproof to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX Toebox durability comparison

We perform durability tests on each hiking boot in our lab.

Less weight makes it easier to move

Day hiking boots should be lightweight enough to reduce fatigue and strain on your body when hiking. Look for a boot with a lightweight sole, EVA midsole, and air-mesh upper which all contribute to reducing weight without compromising on durability or support.

Hoka Trail Code GTX style

Day hiking boots are 1.4 oz (40g) lighter than all types of hiking boots on average.

Keep waterproofing in mind

The best day hiking boots should be waterproof or water-resistant to some degree, based on where you plan to use them. Look for a pair with either a fully waterproof membrane or a pair with a water-resistant treatment to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Drop

Breathability is important in all conditions

Some of the best-reviewed day hiking boots on the market have breathable uppers to help keep your feet cool and comfortable. Hiking can cause us to sweat and if this can't escape from our boots then it can make moving about uncomfortable and may even lead to blisters.

Look for a boot with air-mesh panels or vents to allow airflow while walking and reduce any build-up of sweat.

We test the breathability of each hiking boot with the help of a smoke-pumping machine.

Choose an appropriate amount of traction

Hiking boots should provide good traction on a variety of surfaces. Look for grippy lugs with an aggressive tread pattern that will provide enough grip to keep you safe when walking on wet or muddy trails as well as rocky terrain.

Salomon-X-Ultra-4-Mid-GTX 10.jpg

Lug depth ranges from 3.5 to 5 mm. Choose deeper lugs if you hike on loose muddy terrain.

Day hiking boots vs. backpacking boots

Backpacking boots are a great choice if you’re looking for a very durable pair of boots that you can wear on multi-day treks. Here’s how they compare with day hiking boots.

salomon-quest-4-gtx-outdoor.jpg

Feature

Day Hiking Boots

Backpacking Boots

Purpose

Day hikes

Backpacking trips

Design

Sturdy, ankle support, rugged materials

Sturdy, ankle support, rugged materials

Traction

Aggressive treads

Aggressive treads

Comfort

More cushioning and support

Even more cushioning and support

Durability

Designed for hiking, can last for many years

Designed for backpacking, can last for many years

Cost

Can be more affordable

Can be more expensive

Find out more about the best backpacking boots.

Day hiking boots versus day hiking shoes

Day hiking shoes may be a good alternative if you’re looking for a lightweight option with lower ankle cuffs. Here’s how they compare with day hiking boots.

merrell-moab-3-gtx-protection.JPG

Feature

Day Hiking Boots

Day Hiking Shoes

Purpose

Longer hikes, rugged terrain

Shorter hikes, less rugged terrain

Design

Sturdy, ankle support, rugged materials

Lighter, more breathable materials, lower ankle support

Traction

Aggressive treads

Flatter treads

Comfort

More cushioning and support

Lighter, less cushioning and support

Durability

Designed for hiking, can last for many years

May wear out more quickly

Cost

Can be more expensive

Generally less expensive

Find out more about the best day hiking shoes.

Day hiking boots FAQ

How should I break in my day hiking boots?

Breaking in your day hiking boots is an important part of the process to ensure that your feet are comfortable on hikes. Before hitting the trail, wear them around the house for a few hours each day and walk around with them outdoors. This will help to break them in more quickly and you’ll be assured that you have a great-fitting pair of boots.

How often should I replace my day hiking boots?

Day hiking boots should generally be replaced every 500-600 miles, or once the tread is significantly worn down. It’s important to inspect your boots regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as worn-out laces or holes in the material.

How do I care for and maintain my day hiking boots?

It’s really important to clean your boots regularly with a soft brush or cloth. After each hike, remove any dirt or debris from the upper materials and lugs of the sole. You should also use a waterproofing treatment from time to time to help protect the material from water damage.

Can I wear my day hiking boots for other outdoor activities?

Yes, you can wear your day hiking boots for other outdoor activities like camping or light backpacking. However, it’s important to consider the specific activity you’re doing and choose a boot that’s designed for it. But if you only have one pair of boots, you’ll find that day hiking boots are amongst some of the most adaptable.

Should I buy day hiking boots with ankle support?

Whether or not you should buy day hiking boots with ankle support depends on the type of terrain and difficulty of the hikes that you typically do. If your hikes involve more rugged terrain, then it's a good idea to opt for boots with higher ankle support. On the other hand, if you're mostly doing trails with well-maintained paths, then you mightn’t need the extra ankle support.

Should I buy day hiking boots with a wide or narrow width?

The best way to determine whether you should buy day hiking boots with a wide or narrow width is to try them on and see how they fit. If your feet feel cramped in the boot, then you may want to consider a wider width. However, if the boot feels too loose on your foot, then a narrower width may be better.

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.