7 Best Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots in 2023

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
7 Best Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots in 2023
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It’s about time to switch from your clunky boots to these top-rated lightweight kicks. Utilising innovative concepts and technological advances in boot-making, giant footwear brands like Lowa, Salomon, Merrell, Adidas, and Columbia recently released their highly regarded lightweight waterproof hiking boots.

If you’re like many outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to shed off unwanted poundage on the trail, then you will definitely love the Innox Pro from Lowa built for backpackers, or the X Ultra series from Salomon. There’s actually a solid range of really good choices that we see in this category.

In fact, with over 100 pairs of lightweight waterproof hiking boots in our inventory, picking the perfect pair for you can be time-consuming. We can help you with that! Since we personally wore the shoes during our hikes, we already got a feel for each of them. Therefore, our opinions are not baseless. With that, we give you our in-depth reviews and top rankings of lightweight waterproof hiking shoes.

Best lightweight waterproof hiking boots overall

What makes it the best?

Tighten your shoelaces - we’ve found a winner for the best lightweight waterproof hiking boot! It kept us dry, protected and supported on our long hikes, and packs a lot into a featherweight package. At just 13.8 oz (390g), this boot is a whopping 5.7 oz (163g) lighter than the average waterproof hiking boot, keeping our feet much fresher for longer.

Salomon’s unique support system kept our feet firmly locked into the boot, even over rocky and uneven terrain. The lockdown is in part due to the normal laces favored by the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX, which we found more suitable for putting in long distances. As always, we are massive fans of the Contragrip sole and its 5.1 mm deep lugs. The superb traction of this boot inspires trust in our feet, even when walking over loose scree.

In the lab, we tested the flexibility of the boot by bending it with a force gauge. At room temperature, it takes a mere 27.9N to flex to 90°. The average for hiking boots is 42.8N. The numbers don’t lie - this boot is seriously flexible! Out hiking, we noticed how nimble and agile it felt - we were definitely channeling mountain goat vibes! To top it all off, the waterproofing is second to none. The Gore-Tex membrane and full gusset on the tongue keep our feet bone dry, even when submerged in water for more than a minute.

We don’t recommend this boot for trailblazers who plan to spend a lot of time hiking on muddy trails. The relatively tightly-spaced lugs don’t shed mud easily, leading to slippage.


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


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

Lightweight waterproof hiking boots with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

A well-rounded boot with plenty of features to keep our feet safe and comfy on the hill, the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX is our top choice for a lightweight waterproof hiking boot with the best cushioning. With rock-solid stability, exceptional grip and protection, and Gore-Tex lining, we can’t get enough of this lightweight boot!

The all-day comfort we experienced in this boot is in no small part due to the exceptional cushioning underfoot. The iconic Hubble heel delivers super-smooth landings and the EVA foam midsole absorbs impact like a pro. We pressed a durometer to the midsole to check for hardness, finding it measured a plush 22.5 HA. 19% softer than average, it’s no wonder this sumptuous midsole keeps our feet happy, mile after mile!

From boulder hopping to rough forest trails, this boot has traction in bucketloads. We measured the lugs to be 4.7 mm deep, 0.3 mm deeper than average. The curious goat-like lug patterning is slightly flexible, which allows for extra traction, just like our four-legged counterparts! A rubber toe bumper and an extra 2 mm of cushioning than the average both go a long way to protecting our feet when hiking over sharp rocks.

This boot is ready to brave the elements. The Gore-Tex lining kept our feet impeccably dry on river crossings, with the fully gusseted tongue keeping water from seeping through the upper. Just watch out for water creeping in over the low heel counter!

All in all, this boot surprised us on the scales. At just 15.4 oz (436g), it is 2.9 oz (82g) lighter than the average for all hiking boots, and 4.1 oz (117g) lighter than the average waterproof boot. It’s really no wonder our legs had energy to burn, even after our long hikes.

We measured the thickness of the outsole in the lab, finding it to be 2 mm thick, 0.8 mm thinner than average. This may not be the most hard-wearing outsole on the market, so we don’t recommend it to hikers who need a tough pair of boots for long-distance 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

Lightweight waterproof hiking boots with the best support

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Trail Code GTX is what dreams are made of. It’s an astonishingly lightweight waterproof boot that has the stability of a hiking boot yet somehow feels as nimble as a running shoe! It completely won us over on our test hikes and in the lab, so we feel justified in calling the Hoka Trail Code GTX the most supportive lightweight waterproof hiking boot.

The multi-faceted support system in the Hoka Trail Code GTX is what makes it feel so incredibly stable. The high collar hugs our ankles, and the fairly rigid sole prevents us from twisting our ankles when hiking on uneven, rocky trails. We twisted the boot manually, awarding it 4/5 for torsional rigidity - among the stiffest boots to have passed through the lab! The heel counter fits snugly and holds our heel firmly into the boot. Our assessment confirmed it’s one of the stiffest heel counters, rating 5/5. Finally, the midsole measures 112.5 mm at the forefoot, which is the average for hiking boots. In short, it all adds up to a stable boot in which we feel confident and surefooted.

The Trail Code GTX is no match for puddles or stream crossings, and the Gore-Tex membrane and gusseted tongue keep our feet warm and dry, even on rainy days. A quick look at the boot’s upper under our microscope shows a high-quality, tightly-woven, water-resistant fabric that stops the water from getting in. Anything that makes it through will soon be stopped by the full Gore-Tex membrane. As if to prove the point, in our smoke test, which tests for breathability, the boot scored the lowest 1/5. If the smoke can’t get out, there’s no way water can get in!

Even with such high-performing waterproofing, this boot knocks the socks off the competition when it comes to weight. It tips our scales at 15.5 oz (440g), a staggering 20% lighter than the average waterproof hiking boots! Along with a midsole that is 60% more flexible than average, this boot does away with that cumbersome feel that we are accustomed to in a hiking boot. Our feet feel agile, yet supported by the collar and protected underfoot.

Hoka claims this boot has a low heel-to-toe drop of 6 mm, but our lab measurements found it to be 11.2 mm! We therefore don’t recommend it to hikers who prefer a low-drop boot for that natural hiking experience.


  • 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

Best lightweight waterproof hiking boots for urban hiking

What makes it the best?

A snazzy boot that doesn’t look out of place in the city or on the trail, the Columbia Fairbanks Mid is our top choice of lightweight, waterproof hiking boots on the urban hiking scene. The natural feel due to its low weight and incredible flexibility makes it a superbly comfortable boot for hikes around town. It’s low-profile but grippy outsole is perfect for asphalt and moderate gravel paths, and full waterproofing prevents soaked toes in unexpected downpours. 

There is nothing clunky about the Columbia Fairbanks Mid. At just 15 oz (425g), it is an impressive 3.9 oz (112g) lighter than the average waterproof hiking boot, which helps it to blend in around the city. We feel equally comfortable out hiking or walking to the pub!

We experience an incredibly natural feel in this boot, almost as if we’re not wearing a boot. In the lab, we bent the boot to 90° with a force gauge, and were amazed to find the Fairbanks Mid is a whopping 58% more flexible than average! It’s no wonder our strides felt so free and easy!

The 3.5 mm lugs are 1 mm shallower than average, but we found this to be plenty for moderate surfaces on our urban hikes, even in the rain. The densely woven fabric upper keeps our feet warm and dry while splashing through puddles.

We measured the midsole with a durometer, finding it to be an astounding 29% softer than average. While this makes for a comfortable boot, we found it wasn’t supportive enough for carrying heavy loads. Therefore, we don’t recommend the Columbia Fairbanks Mid for long hikes with heavy pack loads.


  • 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

Best lightweight waterproof hiking boots for backpacking

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX

What makes it the best?

This boot seems to have it all when it comes to backpacking – it’s completely watertight and yet still finds a way to tip the scales below average, it takes support and stability seriously and it’s an extremely cushy ride. What more can you ask from the Hoka Kaha 2, our best lightweight waterproof hiking boots for backpacking?

Hoka has integrated a double layer of cushioning within the midsole. We put our durometer to work, and found the primary cushioning – the soft, cushy one – to measure 21.7 HA, 22% softer than average, while the secondary layer measures 31.6 HA, 13% firmer than average. These two layers work together to provide the plush cushioning for our long hikes with heavy packs, as well as the support and protection required for the same.

These boots have an insanely wide heel, which makes them incredibly stable on rough ground. Back in the lab, we measured the width of the midsole with a caliper. The forefoot measures a very broad 117 mm, which is already 3.2 mm wider than average. But where it really shines is at the heel. The protruding hubble heel, in addition to offering silky smooth transitions, measures 106.1 mm wide - that’s 16% wider than average! Even the thought of rolling an ankle feels impossible!

This fully waterproof boot is the champion of multi-day hikes in all weather. Its high collar and fully gusseted tongue keep rain and stream water from trickling in, and its Gore-Tex with Nubuck leather upper makes sure that our feet remain dry and blister-free for days on end. We pumped smoke into the boot using a smoke machine to test for breathability. Predictably, given its impermeable spec, it scored the least breathable rating of 1/5. And yet for such a high-spec, weatherproof backpacking boot, it manages to keep the weight down. The scales in our lab clocked 18.5 oz (525g), which is still 0.4 oz (11g) below average!

Hoka claim that the Kaha 2 has a low heel-to-toe drop of 6 mm, but we found otherwise during our lab tests. Our measurements showed that it has a fairly high drop of 11.2 mm. Whilst this still falls within the average range of 10-12 mm, we don’t recommend this boot to hikers who prefer a more minimalist, low drop.


  • Sky-high comfort level
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • High-quality materials
  • Pain-alleviating support
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Incredibly stable
  • Superb grip
  • Surprisingly light
  • Minimal break-in period
  • Includes sustainable materials


  • Short tongue (laces slip and cause pressure)
  • Bulky heel gets stuck in stones
  • Polarising aesthetics
Full review of Hoka Kaha 2 GTX

Best lightweight waterproof hiking boots for speed hiking

What makes it the best?

We put on our lightweight waterproof boots in search of the best speed hiker. And no doubt, it’s Salomon’s Outpulse Mid GTX. It bridges the gap between hiking and trail running with its light build and natural sensation. We feel very agile in this pair as it takes us to greater speeds beyond our imagination.

We felt like the fastest hikers despite wearing boots. It feels more like a shoe with its 13.6 oz (386g) weight. It’s hard to ignore how significantly lighter it is than the average hiking boot (18.4 oz/521g). Further boosting our speed is the TPU Energy Blade that lies in the midsole for efficient power return with less effort.

We can adapt and navigate tricky terrains since the low stack gives us good ground feel. We measured the foam at 30.2/21.5 mm in the heel and forefoot vs. the 35.7/23.2 mm average. Despite this, the platform feels comfortable for long hikes. Our durometer confirms its velvet touch, standing 25.4% softer than average.

Even if we cross river streams or get caught in the rain, the GTX membrane keeps us dry. Under our microscope, we saw how tightly woven the material is, effectively keeping cold air and water out.

With its emphasis on lightness, Outpulse isn’t supportive enough for technical terrains and heavy backpacking. We recommend exploring other options for tougher hikes.


  • 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 budget lightweight waterproof hiking boots

What makes it the best?

Money well spent, indeed, in the Merrell Moab Speed Mid GTX which while a titan against water, is a treat for the feet, weight-wise. We paid £170 for this pair, and it was 9.3% less than what we would ordinarily invest in hiking boots. This pair is such a bargain, not only for its reasonable price but also for its invaluable performance.

We tested the Moab Speed Mid GTX in different damp conditions, and we can confidently declare that its waterproofing kept our feet dry as a bone. It is super protective on the trail, but inside, the cushioning spoiled our feet to a cushiony delight. The great news is the hiking boot remained lightweight. It came in at only 10.58 oz (300g), which is 37.3% lighter than the average.

We only wished for its outsole to be more enduring, as we found that the front part easily came off. If you could live with not using this hiking boot too harshly, then you’ll be fine.


  • 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

Comparison of the 7 best lightweight waterproof hiking boots

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As the old saying goes "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment," and this is particularly true when it comes to hiking in wet and rainy conditions. So pack your waterproof jacket, pair of boots and get out there. Here's all you need to know to find the best lightweight waterproof hiking boots to suit your needs.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX laces

What are lightweight waterproof hiking boots? 

We consider a boot to be lightweight if it weighs less than 17.6 oz (500g) in a men's US size 9.

There are various styles of lightweight waterproof hiking boots, ranging from casual day hikers to more intensive backpacking boots. Whether you're a novice or an experienced hiker, having the right pair of lightweight waterproof hiking boots can make all the difference in your outdoor adventure. 

Benefits of using lightweight waterproof hiking boots 

Lightweight waterproof hiking boots are an ideal choice for hikers, as they offer a number of benefits. They are:

  • Lightweight for manoeuvrability
  • Weatherproof for adaptability
  • Rugged for a range of terrain

By utilising lightweight materials and construction, these boots provide superior comfort and support while still being easy to move around in.

Additionally, the weather-proofing offered by these boots means that hikers can stay dry even in wet or rainy conditions. The reinforced soles and toes also provide extra protection against rough terrain, helping to keep your feet safe and sound.

Best situations for lightweight waterproof hiking boots

The best lightweight waterproof hiking boots are highly adaptable, with some hikers choosing them as their go-to boots in a whole host of conditions.

In wet climates

Lightweight waterproof hiking boots are an ideal choice for hikers in wet climates, as they provide brilliant protection against rain and dampness while still being lightweight and comfortable. The breathable materials used in these boots will also help to keep your feet cool even after extended periods of walking, which is especially important when you're dealing with wet conditions.

On multi-day backpacking trips

When backpacking, having the right pair of lightweight waterproof hiking boots is a great choice. On multi-day trips, you're likely to encounter a variety of terrain and weather conditions, which means your feet will need extra protection. Lightweight waterproof hiking boots are adaptable and provide protection while still being comfortable enough for long days on the trail.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX hubble heel

For long day hikes on varied terrain

For long hikes, lightweight waterproof hiking boots are a must. With the varied terrain that you'll likely encounter on these hikes, having a pair of boots that can handle both wet and dry conditions allows you to be prepared for anything. The lightweight construction will help to reduce fatigue and make it easier to get through your hike with minimal discomfort.


On thru-hikes

Lightweight waterproof hiking boots are fantastic for thru-hikes, as they will protect your feet from the elements and provide support over long distances. The combination of lightweight construction and weather-proofing ensures that your feet will remain dry, even if you encounter unexpected wet conditions. Keep in mind that the lightweight construction will mean that you may wear out a pair if thru-hiking an epic trail like the Appalachian.

6 things to consider when buying lightweight waterproof hiking boots 

High level of waterproofness

When buying lightweight waterproof hiking boots, it's important to look for boots that offer reliable waterproofness. This is especially true if you plan on doing any wet or rainy-day hikes, as the waterproofing will help to keep your feet dry and comfortable while you walk.

Lightweight materials

Lightweight construction is essential when it comes to hiking boots, as this can help reduce fatigue and improve your overall comfort. When looking for lightweight waterproof hiking boots, make sure to choose models with a lighter weight that won't weigh you down on the trail letting you be more mobile.

Grippy and flexible soles

Having a solid sole is important when choosing lightweight waterproof hiking boots. Look for models that offer good traction, as this will help to keep you steady on the trail even in slippery conditions. Look for boots with an EVA midsole and shock-absorbing features like Vibram that can provide additional cushioning and support. 

Breathability to stay cool

Breathable boots are an absolute must for any type of hiking. This will help to keep your feet cool and comfortable while you walk. Look for models with a waterproof membrane that still allows air circulation, as this will help to regulate temperature and prevent your feet from getting too hot. 

Cushioning for extra comfort

Having a cushioning insole is important when choosing lightweight waterproof hiking boots, as this can help to absorb shock and provide extra comfort while you're on the trail. Look for models with an EVA midsole that provides ample cushioning without adding too much weight to your feet.

The right ankle cuff height

Choose a pair of lightweight waterproof hiking boots with the right ankle cuff height. A taller cuff will provide more support and protection for your ankles, but may be more uncomfortable if you are not used to it. A low-cut model will be lighter and easier to break in, but will not offer as much ankle stability on the trail.

Hoka Trail Code GTX lab test

Best materials for lightweight waterproof hiking boots

The best lightweight waterproof hiking boots live and die by their material choices. Here's what to keep an eye out for when you're looking for your next pair.

Lightweight materials

Nubuck leather 

Nubuck leather is a type of leather that has been sanded or buffed on the grain side, creating a velvety texture. This material is lightweight yet durable, making it ideal for use in hiking boots. It’s also highly breathable, allowing air to circulate inside the shoe for comfort and temperature control. Nubuck leather is also resistant to water, meaning your feet will stay dry even in wet conditions. Best of all, nubuck leather looks great and will keep its appearance for years to come.

Synthetic mesh uppers

Synthetic mesh is a lightweight and breathable material used in many lightweight waterproof hiking boots. The fabric is strong yet flexible, allowing for easy movement while still providing protection from the elements. This material is also highly breathable, allowing air to circulate inside the shoe to keep feet cool and comfortable. Synthetic mesh is also water-resistant, so your feet will stay dry even in wet conditions.

Hoka Trail Code GTX microscope

Flexible midsoles

Flexible midsoles are lightweight, shock-absorbing materials used in many lightweight waterproof hiking boots. This material provides cushioning and support during long hikes without adding additional weight. The flexibility of these midsoles allows them to mould to the shape of your foot for superior comfort and fit, while also providing excellent shock absorption to protect feet from the impact of rough terrain.

Waterproof materials

Gore-Tex uppers

Gore-Tex is a breathable, waterproof material used in many of the best lightweight waterproof hiking boots. This fabric is designed to be completely waterproof while still allowing air to circulate inside the shoe. The unique construction of this material allows it to form a reliable barrier against water while also remaining flexible and breathable. Gore-Tex is highly durable and will keep your feet dry even in wet conditions.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX Drop

Waterproof leather

Waterproof leather is a rugged and breathable material used in many lightweight waterproof hiking boots. This type of leather has been treated with a special coating that makes it impermeable to water, ensuring your feet will stay dry even in the wettest conditions.

Seam-sealed construction

Seam-sealed construction is an innovative process used in the manufacturing of lightweight waterproof hiking boots. This technique involves sealing all seams and stitching with a water-resistant adhesive to create a completely waterproof barrier. This means that no water can penetrate the seams, even in wet conditions. Seam-sealed construction adds extra protection from moisture, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. 

Are waterproof hiking boots essential?

In dry climates or on short hikes, waterproofing isn't always essential. If you are only hiking in terrain with minimal mud and water, then a non-waterproof hiking boot might suffice. And if you are going on a short day hike in generally dry conditions on non-technical trails, lightweight non-waterproof hiking shoes can provide plenty of traction and comfort.

What are the downsides of waterproof hiking boots?

While waterproof hiking boots offer many benefits, there are some potential downsides. As these boots use a more breathable material than leather, they can be less durable and may not last as long.

Waterproofing materials used in the construction of these boots can cause them to be heavier and less flexible than non-waterproof options.

Finally, boots with waterproofing are more expensive than non-waterproof models.

Average price
Waterproof hiking boots Non-waterproof hiking boots
£210 £180

How to maintain lightweight waterproof hiking boots

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your boots will help extend their lifespan and will keep your feet comfortable and dry out on the trail.

  1. Clean your boots regularly with a brush and mild soap 
  2. Apply waterproofing products to prevent water from penetrating the material 
  3. Keep the laces tight, but not too tight to cause discomfort 
  4. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight when not in use 
  5. Repair any damages as soon as possible 
  6. Let your boots air out after a long day of hiking, and avoid keeping them in plastic bags 
  7. Deep clean your boots every 6 to 12 months, depending on how often you use them. 
  8. Consider having a professional waterproofing treatment every few years to extend the life of your boots. 

When it comes to finding the best lightweight waterproof hiking boots, it pays to take the time to do your research. Lightweight boots offer superior comfort and fit while providing protection from the elements.

The right pair of boots can make all the difference in any outdoor adventure – so be sure to invest in quality footwear with features like nubuck leather, Gore-Tex, flexible midsoles, and seam-sealed construction. With the right amount of research and care, your boots can keep your feet comfortable and dry for many hikes to come.

Hoka Trail Code GTX collar

How we test hiking boots

We combine our very own experiences with our findings at the RunRepeat shoe testing lab. After carefully analysing each boot inside the lab, we take the lightweight boots on actual hiking excursions and backpacking trips.

Before publishing our reviews and rankings, we do the following:

  • We purchase lightweight waterproof hiking boots from various brands. We invest our own funds to maintain the objectivity of our reviews and rankings.
  • We go for day hikes or long-distance treks covering 30+ miles for each pair of boots. We test the footwear’s performance, comfort, traction, waterproofness, durability, and reliability in different kinds of terrain.
  • We get more useful information from our lab tests, which also entail the dissection of the shoes. 
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.