7 Best Boots For Light Hiking in 2023

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
7 Best Boots For Light Hiking in 2023
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For outdoor enthusiasts and day hikers out there who love to go fast on the trails, this fantastic compilation of light hiking boots is definitely worth an investment. Often called by outdoor enthusiasts as trail-to-town boots, these models come with the superb comfort, sturdiness, and protection you need to tackle the trails.

To help you pick the perfect fit, we’ve tested and reviewed the best light hiking boots currently available in the market. Depending on your unique style and specific preference, check out below our top picks.

Best light hiking boots overall

What makes it the best?

Boasting unbelievably plush cushioning, natural-feeling flexibility and weighing 19% less than average, the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX is our top choice for the best overall hiking boot for short, light hikes.

With a slightly higher stack height than average, the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX keeps our feet well protected from sharp objects on the trail. Our measurements showed the forefoot stack is 2.3 mm higher than average - a feature that we appreciated greatly on steep downhills. Even the heel stack measures 0.5 mm higher than average. All the extra EVA foam underfoot is seriously cushy - our durometer clocked an amazing 22.5 HA, 19% softer than average. Our feet feel protected yet scrumptiously coddled on our hikes!

For a supportive, mid-height, waterproof boot we could expect a high weight reading, but not in the Anacapa Mid GTX. It tipped our scales at just 15.4 oz (436g), shaving 3.5 oz (99g) off the average of our lab-tested hiking boots. Its perfect blend of materials keeps the weight right down, making it a fast-and-light companion for our day hikes.

We felt a delightful freedom of movement when navigating technical trails. In the lab, we bent the boot to 90° using a force gauge. With a flexibility of 31.5N, it proves itself to be 28% more flexible than average. For light hiking trails where a flexible boot helps us find our natural stride, we can’t recommend it highly enough!

The durability of the upper scored a low 1/5 in our durability tests. Our Dremel left a sizable hole in the toebox after just 4 seconds, making us question its durability on rocky terrain. For this reason, we don’t recommend it to hikers looking for a durable boot for longer, technical hikes.


  • 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


  • 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

Boots for light hiking with the best comfort

What makes it the best?

With a cushioned midsole to die for, this ultra-flexible yet staunchly stable hiking boot is our all-time favorite for short, easy hikes. After testing it rigorously on the trail and in the lab, we declare it the most comfortable hiking boot for light hiking.

All-day comfort is the name of the game while wearing the Hoka Trail Code GTX. The second we slipped it on, we were blown away by the plushness of the midsole. In the lab, we measured the midsole softness with a durometer, and it all became clear. At 23.4 HA, the Trail Code GTX is 16% softer than average! It also has a little extra material underfoot than average – 0.7 mm extra at the heel and 1.9 mm at the forefoot, to be precise – and we found this kept our feet comfortable, protected and fresh throughout our hikes.

Our light hikes are short and on simple terrain, so we don’t feel the need for stiff, clunky boots. That’s where the Hoka Trail Code GTX comes in. Weighing 3.4 oz (104g) less than average, they are also incredibly flexible for such a high-spec boot. When pushing them to 90°, our force gauge registered a low 26.1N, which means this is a seriously flexible kick. Don’t believe us? The average hiking boot requires 43.8N of force to bend it to 90°! While hiking, our feet feel light and free, perfect for light hikes.

Such suppleness doesn’t compromise the boots’ stability, either. With a wide midsole measuring 112.5 mm – around the average for our lab-tested hikers – twisted ankles are things of the past. Our heels are held firmly in place by a solid, but not compressive, heel counter. Our lab assessment dubs the heel counter the stiffest rating possible, 5/5. All in all, the Hoka Trail Code GTX outshines the competition when it comes to a steady, stable ride.

We have some doubts about the durability of the Hoka Trail Code GTX’s outsole. The rubber doesn’t cover the whole bottom of the shoe, and when we measured the thickness of the outsole in the lab, we found it to be 33% thinner than average. Hikers looking for a more durable hiking boot may want to explore other options.


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


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

Boots for light hiking with the best style

What makes it the best?

The elegant Timberland Sprint Trekker wins the top spot as the most stylish boot for light hiking. Its sleek leather upper turns heads whilst performing the practical task of keeping our feet protected from the elements. Throw in a really natural feel due to the low drop height and flexible midsole, and we’ve got a stylish, comfortable and functional boot. What’s not to like?!

With its leather upper and classy, mounted eyelets, there are no holes for water to filter into the boot. Our feet remain toasty throughout winter, and the Sprint Trekker can even resist light rain and wet grass due to the natural waterproofing properties of the leather. It even weighs 2 oz (68g) less than the average leather boot, so we felt agile and light-footed instead of heavy and clumsy.

This boot offers a delightfully natural feel while hiking, and when we measured the stack height we understood why. With a heel stack of 26.1 mm, our feet in the Sprint Trekker are 10 mm closer to the ground than average. Overall, we measured a 6.2 mm heel-to-toe drop, compared to the average of 12.4 mm. We loved the natural feel the low drop offers.

The 4 mm lugs measure 0.5 mm less than average, but we found this was more than enough for light hiking on manicured trails. Coupled too with a flexible midsole, we felt confident hiking even in light mud and slush. In the lab, we twisted the boot lengthwise, finally awarding it a middling 3/5 - not too stiff, but not too flexible either. There is, however, enough flex to enhance our grip on rough surfaces.

We don’t recommend the Timberland Spring Trekker to hikers with weak ankles. After our manual assessment of the heel counter, we awarded it a low score of 2/5 for stiffness, compared to the average of 3.3. We don’t feel it supports our ankles sufficiently on technical terrain.


  • Beautiful aesthetics
  • Very light for a leather boot
  • Hard-wearing rubber outsole
  • High-quality nubuck upper
  • Deep lugs and great grip
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Affordable


  • Not a proper hiking boot
  • Narrow restrictive toebox
  • Lacks breathability
Full review of Timberland Sprint Trekker

Best retro boots for light hiking

What makes it the best?

Feeling more like a stylish outdoor sneaker than a hardcore hiking boot, the Columbia Fairbanks Mid rocked our lab tests and hikes, standing out as the best retro boot for light hiking. Its sleek profile blends in on the trail and around the city, while its grip, flexibility and featherweight make it an adaptable choice for short, light hikes.

We measured the lugs of the versatile Fairbanks Mid to be 3.5 mm deep, finding this to be plenty for moderate, well-maintained trails. 1 mm shallower than average, they don’t perform well on muddy, slippery surfaces, but we found our grip increased overall due to the flexibility of the midsole. As a result of our lab tests, we rated the boot as 2/5 for torsional flexibility. On the trail, our feet can twist and flex naturally over rough ground, increasing our grip.

Talking about flexibility, the Fairbanks Mid flexes so instinctively that we could almost forget we were wearing a pair of hiking boots! We bent the boot to 90° in the lab using a force gauge, and found this boot to be a tremendous 58% more flexible than average! We appreciated the natural feel of our stride while hiking.

Tipping the scales at a modest 15 oz (425g), the Columbia Fairbanks Mid is significantly lighter than its peers. Waterproof hiking boots weigh 18.9 oz (536g) on average, making this a great lightweight choice for non-demanding hikes.

We found the overall foot and ankle support lacking in the Columbia Fairbanks Mid. The flexible heel counter scored a low 2/5 in our lab test, and it didn’t hold our ankle securely. We therefore don’t recommend this boot for intense hiking.


  • Remarkably light
  • Head-turning looks
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Good grip on mild terrain
  • Hard-wearing outsole
  • Soft cushioning
  • Flexible design
  • Fits as expected


  • Not a true hiking boot
  • Lacks support and stability
Full review of Columbia Fairbanks Mid

Boots for light hiking with the best ride

What makes it the best?

The perfect grippy company for casual pace and less technical terrains is the Salomon Outpulse Mid GTX. Light hikes might be less demanding but this hiking boot sure does add the fun to our expeditions with its super tenacious outsole sensational interior.

Softer outsoles are associated with better traction, so good thing that we recorded an 87.5 HC outsole hardness with the Outpulse Mid GTX, which is almost equal to the average hardness of hiking boots. On our hikes, this really displayed great adhesion to the ground, making our rides not only safer but also steadier.

The airiness of this hiking boot also resulted in our gleeful and fatigue-less treks. We found this sensation of weightlessness consistent even for daylong hikes. We also love how easy it is to shift our weight from heel to toe with the flexible construction of the boot. It only required a force of 27N to bend the Outpulse Mid GTX, and this is 36.5% easier to bend than most hiking boots.

We expected a better grip on our ankles from the collar. However, at a heel counter stiffness of 3/5, which is close to the average, we were underwhelmed. If you also need a secure ankle hold, we suggest giving other boots a try.


  • Astonishingly light
  • Comfy like a sneaker
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Very durable build
  • Soft and springy cushioning
  • Low-to-the-ground platform
  • Remains soft and flexible in cold weather


  • Loose collar fit
  • Not for technical terrain
Full review of Salomon Outpulse Mid GTX

Best lightweight boots for light hiking

What makes it the best?

Merrell Moab Speed Mid GTX does the greatest job of keeping our feet company during our easy-going adventures out of all the lightweight hiking boots we’ve worn and scrutinized. We found that its lack of weight also resulted in our lack of stress in the trails. Also, everything about this boot made us as chill as ever.

This boot only weighed 10.58 oz (300g), which is 37.3% airier than other boots we tested. But apart from the extreme lightness of the Moab Speed Mid GTX, what got us even more obsessed with using it on our rambles is its luxuriously comfy cushioning with added support. No second-guessing our steps with this Merrell pair. The clincher is, that we also experienced maximum comfort out of the gate!

We found the waterproof ability of the Moab Speed Mid GTX useful even on light hikes, kind of like an ace up our sleeves. We tested the Gore-Tex component in various wet conditions and we can affirm its effectiveness. 

After our outdoor tests, we were dismayed with the state of the outsole. We noticed premature wear on the outsole’s toe area. If you are after super tough hiking boots, we recommend looking for more durable ones.


  • Instant comfort
  • Extremely light
  • Unrelenting collar
  • Mighty ankle support
  • Grippy outsole
  • Propelling boot
  • Watertight


  • Frail outsole
  • Unruly laces
Full review of Merrell Moab Speed Mid GTX

Boots for light hiking with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

The hiking boot with the best cushioning that’s remarkable for light hikes is the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker. It is basically an upgraded sneaker for hiking, so advancing on terrains is a cakewalk. Combining the excellent cushioning of this boot with its reinforcing ankle collar, our gaits felt so great!

First step on the foam of the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 and we already had a taste of utopia. We were so at ease from the get-go, we didn’t even mind walking for hours. We also found our feet moving more naturally in this hiker. Long or short walks, our gaits are unstrained. 

What also made the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 ideal for less strenuous hikes is its super light construction. At 13.5 oz (383g), this one is 20% lighter than the average hiking boot.

The only thing that stings is its high price of £210, setting us back by 13.4% more than other hiking boots. We recommend searching for more affordable pairs if your budget is limited.


  • Next-level comfort
  • Surprisingly supportive collar
  • Promotes balance
  • Charming grip
  • Quite light
  • Superb workmanship
  • Above-average flexibility
  • Eye-catching looks


  • With break-in
  • Tricky to put on
  • Expensive
Full review of Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2

Comparison of the 7 best boots for light hiking

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How we test hiking boots

Each hiking boot in our inventory is thoroughly scrutinised inside the RunRepeat lab:

  • We purchase hiking boots using our own funds.
  • We go out to the trails to have a first-hand experience using the boots.
  • After clocking up around 30 miles for each pair, we cut the boot in half to measure even more parameters.
  • We check and measure over 30 different parameters of each model including its weight, cushioning, support, flexibility, and more.
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.