7 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
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Some hikes are ruined by even light rain or morning dew. Not to mention rain showers. Your feet get soaked, and cold, and even blisters appear. That’s where waterproof hiking shoes enter the scene.

To help you get the best shoe on the market, we have personally tested waterproof hiking shoes in harsh conditions on the trails and in our lab. Are you buying one for backpacking, speed hiking, or some moderate day hikes? We’ve got a top pick for various categories.

And if you want to learn more about the levels of waterproofing or why Gore-Tex is so popular, check out our guide.

How we test hiking shoes

What we initially do is buy all the hiking shoes we are going to test. We get our funds from our own wallets, without accepting any donation from anyone, especially from the brands. This way, we get to be more entitled to our honest opinions, and we avoid any unfairness.

The next thing we perform is wear testing. Yes, every waterproof hiking shoe we test goes into our feet. We take them to different trails and streams, to fully test the shoes' capacity in different aspects, such as grip, water tightness, durability, and more.

Lastly, we cut the hiking shoes in half. This, along with our tests is done in our independent lab. We measure the shoes' different parameters, from permeability to durability and anything in between!

Best waterproof hiking shoes overall

What makes it the best?

Make way for the champion of grippy hiking shoes, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX. With its unbeatable waterproofing and excellent stability, this shoe is the perfect multi-tasker and we keep it at hand for demanding trails.

Our feet coasted over rocks, roots and muddy trails with no problem, so we took the shoe into the lab to crunch the numbers. Our caliper measured 4.5 mm lugs on the Contragrip sole. This is about average for hiking shoes, but what really adds to the superior grip is the shoe’s flexibility. We bent the shoe to 90°, measuring the force taken to do so with a force gauge. The gauge measured 37.1 HA - that’s 31% more flexible than the average hiking shoe! What this means in practice is that our feet could bend and flex over tricky terrain, maximizing the surface area of our foot in contact with the ground.

Salomon’s Active Support System really struts its stuff when the going gets rough. The quick lacing system locks our feet snugly into the shoe. The laces attach to a plastic shank in the midsole, keeping our ankles from rolling on technical terrain. In the lab, we tested the stiffness of the heel and awarded it a 5/5, the stiffest rating possible. This translates to a firm heel hold and increased stability on rocky trails.

The GoreTex waterproofing is amongst the best we’ve seen, and we could even splash through streams and deep puddles without getting wet feet.

The heel collar is a lot higher than previous versions of Salomon’s X Ultra line, so we don’t recommend it to hikers who like a low-riding shoe.


  • Instant comfort
  • Impeccable waterproofing
  • Very lightweight
  • Exceptional grip
  • Excellent support and lockdown
  • Stable platform
  • Roomy toebox


  • Quicklace is not for everyone
  • Too-high collar
Full review of Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Waterproof hiking shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

When a hiking shoe feels like a running shoe, and not any running shoe but a seriously comfortable one, it has to be crowned as the hiking shoe with the best cushioning! Plus, it's day-one comfort that comes in an insanely rugged package. 

When we cut Acanapa Low GTX in half in our lab, we say layers, padding, cushioning. No wonder the comfort level is 10/10. When we pressed the durometer against the midsole, it measured 23.3 HA. The average for hiking shoes is 30.7 HA. Because the lower durometer readings mean softer materials, this makes the Anacapa Low GTX 31.8% softer than the average hiking shoe!

This cushioning and overall comfort levels are so badass that the shoe got a Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. 

We took this shoe to some very challenging hikes and could not notice signs of wear and tear. Our tests have confirmed this - the outsole is harder than the average and the toebox is our standard now. We compare all the other shoes to this one when trying to destroy the upper with a Dremmel. It got the rating of 5 out of 5 meaning it is the most durable. And its waterproofness is just what we need for wet weather hiking that ends in dry socks! 

Keep in mind that the numbers stated by the brand do not match the lab measurements. Starting with stack heights, Hoka said 28/22 mm while we measured 36.0/25.5 mm at the heel/forefoot. This also gives us a different heel drop, Hoka said 6 mm, we measured 10.5 mm. Given the significance of these differences, hikers should be aware of them and look for alternatives if this high drop is not what they are looking for. 


  • Mind-blowing cushioning
  • Podiatrist-approved sole
  • Excellent grip
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Lightweight
  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Roomy toebox
  • Well-made
  • Contains recycled materials


  • GTX version only
  • Pricier than average
  • Weird-looking heel
Full review of Hoka Anacapa Low GTX

Waterproof hiking shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX is a hiking shoe embodiment of stability. After all our hikes and lab tests, we gave it the highest ratings for: lateral stability, torsional rigidity, waterproofness, and overall secure feel. 

The level of stability that this hiking shoe offers should be called hiking-boot level. When we tried twisting it with our hands, we realized it's almost impossible to do so. This torsional rigidity is one of the reasons why we felt so stable when hiking even over more technical terrain. We gave the Swift R3 GTX the highest score on this test 5/5, because it really is: the stiffest. 

Looking inside the shoe, we found another reason for this stability. The heel counter got 4/5 on the stiffness test and, for sure, we felt how it snuggly hugs our heel area and allows no unwanted lateral movements. 

All the terrains that we covered with no slips now make sense: with a caliper, we measured the thickness of the lugs. They sit at 4.4 mm. The average is 4.3 mm, so it's not big difference but, thanks to the softer-than-average rubber, lugs are sticky and did not disappoint. 

The waterproof membrane works wonders. We checked it out under the microscope in the lab and it is so tightly woven, no wonder no water gets inside easily! However, it's also no wonder for why no air circulates through the upper. This is a warm shoe and we don't recommend it for summer days. 


  • Boot-like stability
  • Highly durable and protective
  • Lightweight for what it offers
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Breathable for a GTX shoe
  • Generously cushioned
  • Very secure foothold
  • Top-notch grip with deep lugs


  • Stuffy for summer
  • Can be too stiff (even stiffer in cold)
  • Break-in needed
Full review of Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

Waterproof hiking shoes with the best comfort

What makes it the best?

A very padded and gusseted tongue, padded heel counter, cushioned footbed, and overall waterproofness and protectiveness are packed in a day-one-comfort hiking shoe called Merrell Moab 3 GTX. And that's why we found this shoe to be the most comfortable waterproof hiking shoe out there. 

Although it has a Gore-Tex membrane, the Moab 3 GTX is not stiff. In the lab, we performed a flexibility test by bending the shoe to 90 degrees. Our force gauge measured 30.2N. Hiking shoes, on average, need a force of 36.4N to get bent to 90 degrees. This makes the Moab 3 GTX 20.5% more flexible! This flexibility improves comfort so much because it allows for more natural foot movement. 

Let's not forget about the padding on the heel counter! Or the tongue - it's remarkable, at 14.6 mm thickness, the tongue is 3.2 mm thicker than the average one. It's soft and it allowed us to tighten the laces as much as we needed without even a trace of a lace bite! 

And it's not that just the Gore-Tex works, it's the lugs as well. Hiking when it's raining proved to be a good exercise because we could focus on our training and form rather than worry about slips and ankle turns. Lugs are 4.8 mm deep and their bite is as versatile as it gets. 

We can't have it all. That's why we don't recommend the Moab 3 GTX to hikers who prefer lightweight hiking shoes. Weighing 15.94 oz (452g), it falls on the heavier side because it is significantly heavier than the average hiking shoe that sits at 13.93 oz (395g). 


  • Superb day-one comfort
  • Brilliant surface adhesion
  • Supportive like a work shoe
  • Fantastic cushioning underfoot
  • Remarkably durable
  • A-grade waterproofing
  • Sheds mud quite well
  • Protective toe box
  • Incredible overall quality


  • Heavy for a low-top
  • Subpar breathability
  • Its shoelaces unravel often
Full review of Merrell Moab 3 GTX

Best lightweight waterproof hiking shoes

What makes it the best?

The Merrell Moab Speed GTX stands out from the crowd as the best lightweight waterproof hiking shoe. Weighing in far below average, there’s nothing clunky about this shoe. Impeccably waterproof yet still breathable, its stellar grip bites into soft, muddy trails making it our go-to hiking shoe for rainy days.

Weighing in at 12.1 oz (343g), the Merrell Moab Speed GTX is 1.8 oz (50g) lighter than the average waterproof hiking shoe. We notice it most on our long hikes when our legs are still fresh at the end of the day.

The Gore-Tex passed our stream tests with flying colors - not a drop of water made it through the membrane. Yet despite its watertight pedigree, our feet don’t overheat on hot days. We pumped smoke into the shoe to test for breathability, and the Merrell Moab Speed GTX performed better than we expected. The mesh tongue works as a chimney to let air flow in and out of the toe box, and we awarded it 3/5 for breathability when most waterproof shoes score a low 1/5.

Muddy trails, wet rock, and rocky ascents present no problem for this shoe. Its 4 mm lugs shed mud well, offering stability even in the most challenging conditions. The outsole is on the softer side of average, with our durometer clocking 84.5 HC compared to the average 86.1 HC, which serves to increase our grip on hard surfaces.

It is unusually stiff for such a lightweight shoe. With such a solidly constructed upper, it put up a lot of resistance in our flexibility tests. Pushing it to 90° with a force gauge, it registered 54N - far more rigid than the average of 36.4N. We don’t recommend it to hikers who want a natural feeling, flexible hiking shoe.


  • Plush on day one
  • Watertight
  • Sticky
  • Featherweight
  • Stabilising
  • Incredibly supportive
  • Propelling


  • Unflattering heel fit
  • Frail outsole
Full review of Merrell Moab Speed GTX

Best waterpoof hiking shoes with wide toeboxes

What makes it the best?

Waterproof hiking shoes come in many shapes and sizes, but the best waterproof hiking shoe with a wide toe box? That’s the Teva Grandview GTX Low! With plenty of space up front for our toes, exceptionally waterproof yet breathable, and consistent performance in all weathers, the Teva Grandview GTX Low is a force to be reckoned with.

At first glance, it’s clear that this shoe has a generous amount of space in the toe box, and our toes had plenty of room to splay on our test hikes. We put it to the test in the lab and sure enough, our observations were confirmed. At the widest part of the foot, the toe box measures 3.2 mm wider than average. At the big toe, it measures an impressive 5.4 mm wider than average, and is among the widest we have ever tested! It bodes well for hikers with wide feet!

This fully waterproof, Gore-Tex hiking shoe stood up well to our field tests. Splashing through puddles and streams, not a drop of water made it through the waterproof membrane. We took a closer look at the upper fabric with our microscope and found a very tight weave made of water-phobic material. No wonder it kept our feet bone dry! That being said, when we pumped smoke into the shoe to test for breathability, we were pleasantly surprised to find that some smoke was able to escape around the tongue, which makes a change from other stuffy waterproof shoes. We awarded the Grandview GTX Low 2/5 for breathability, where 1 is the least breathable.

The Teva Grandview GTX Low has found the sweet spot between flexible and sturdy. Pushing it to 90° with a force gauge it came in 9% more flexible than average. After leaving it in the freezer for 20 minutes to imitate winter conditions, we tested it a second time, and found it had barely stiffened at all, and was 28.9% more flexible than other “frozen” shoes! These shoes felt and performed as we expected them to, whatever the temperature outsole on any given day.

After testing the heel padding with a Dremel at 5K RPM for 4 seconds at 3.2N, a sizable hole was left in the mesh. We rated the heel padding as 2/5 for durability, where 1 is the least durable. We don’t recommend this shoe to hikers looking for a more robust lining.


  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Softer than average cushioning
  • Great impact protection
  • Remains soft and flexible in low temps
  • Very stable and supportive
  • Deep lugs with top-notch grip
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Good wear resistance
  • A dream for wide feet


  • Heavier than average
  • Not for narrow feet
  • Heel lock is fiddly
Full review of Teva Grandview GTX Low

Waterproof hiking shoes with the best value

What makes it the best?

Among waterproof hiking shoes, we rigorously tested in and out of the lab, KEEN Targhee III Waterproof delivers protection, comfort, and stability like no other. For an investment of only £160, its quality exceeds its price, making it our best-value pick.

Targhee III’s upper is composed of a mesh that’s incredibly dense and compact preventing water and debris from getting in. It includes a rubberized toe bumper, so we hiked without worries of painfully bumping our toes into rocks and roots. On top of this, the materials used resisted our Dremel greatly and scored a solid 5/5 in our toebox durability test.

Moving to the midsole, we had a good mix of cushioned landings and ground feel thanks to the elevated heel and modest forefoot. The ride felt extra stable on uneven terrain since the cushion never bottomed out. Our durometer confirms our sensation as the foam is 13.6% firmer than average. 

Beneath our feet lies a robust outsole with 4.5 mm thick, grippy, and multi-directional lugs that showcased a solid bite on grass, loose ground, mud, and wet rocks. We’re confident the outsole will last many hikes as our measurements show its rubber is 32% thicker than average.

As a low-top shoe, we recommend sticking to water levels below the ankle as any water that seeps in won’t drain out.


  • Grippy outsole
  • Good traction in muddy conditions
  • Excellent for winter hikes
  • Firm but protective cushioning
  • Well-constructed and durable upper
  • Lots of protective overlays
  • Amazing stability
  • Relatively breathable
  • No break-in time


  • Outsole durability could be better
  • Not ideal for narrow feet
Full review of KEEN Targhee III Waterproof

3 must-haves in waterproof hiking shoes

When shopping for waterproof hiking shoes, there are 3 things we strongly recommend looking for. Our recommendations come from extensive wear testing and shoe lab tests. 

  1. Superb waterproofness. Usually, the shoe name itself indicates whether the shoe is waterproof or not. Look for GTX, Gore-Tex, WP, Waterproof,... in the shoe name. 
  2. Breathability. Although, by default, waterproof hiking shoes tend to be less breathable than non-waterproof ones, we suggest looking for at least average breathability. In our world, that means a score of 3 out of 5 on the breathability test. 
  3. Grip. Finding shoes with the grip you need depends on the terrain and we, of course, have a suggestion for every type of it. 

We go down the rabbit hole for all 3 of these features below. 

How to recognise waterproof hiking shoes

Look for words like Waterproof, WP, Gore-Tex, or GTX in the shoe name. If that’s not enough, check the specification of the upper (membrane).

GTX hiking shoes focusing on the membrane

Other waterproof technologies in hiking shoes

Make sure it is waterproof. Do not settle for water-repellent or water-resistant!  

Every waterproof shoe comes with specifications of the waterproof membrane: how waterproof it really is. The number that tells us that is called hydrostatic head and it’s measured in millimetres. Hydrostatic head is measured by filling a tube with inner dimensions of 1’’x1’’ with water and putting it over a piece of certain fabric. It is the number of millimetres of water that the tube can take before water begins to leak through the material. The higher the number in mm, the more waterproof the fabric. 

Consult this explanation below to understand better which membrane you need:


When we test hiking shoes, we subject them to various elements - snow, rain, or simply water, when crossing a creek or a stream. 


In the lab, we examine the upper under the microscope. This allows us to add another layer of testing to the breathability tests, but also to understand the construction of the waterproof upper. 

Waterproof vs nonwaterproof uppers on hiking shoes

As you can see, the waterproof uppers are tightly woven and have absolutely no ventilation holes (bottom), unlike the non-waterproof uppers, whose threads are looser (top). 

But then, how breathable are waterproof hiking shoes? 

Breathability of waterproof hiking shoes

It’s a known fact that waterproof shoes are less breathable than non-waterproof ones. In the lab, we test this with a smoke machine. We pump smoke into the shoe and analyse how much of it comes out and where. In the example below, we compare a waterproof shoe to a non-waterproof one and notice how the latter is way more breathable:

In waterproof hiking shoes, it is really important to find those that are breathable, especially if you plan to use them in moderate to warm temperatures. It’s not an impossible task, thanks to our lab tests. See the list of our top 5 waterproof hiking shoes that actually don’t suck at breathability: 

Even with the water-tight membrane, the water can still end up in your shoe. It can slide down your legs, your trousers, or you can simply get in a puddle you did not know was very deep. 


When this happens, all you want for your shoe is to breathe! Otherwise, your feet will spend a lot of time in, basically, water, and blisters could be the mildest consequence. 

However, if you plan to hike in winter, you might want to look for less breathable shoes. Less breeze means more warmth. In that case, we advise these shoes: 

What’s a gusseted tongue and why do you need it

Tongues can be non-gusseted (not attached to the sides), semi-gusseted (partially attached to the sides) and fully-gusseted. Fully-gusseted tongues are attached to the sides of the shoe, below the eyelets on the inner side. Because of this, they can’t move freely to the sides and are much better and keeping the water, snow and debris outside the shoe. 


Traction: it’s all about the lug depth 

Waterproof hiking shoes imply wet weather and wet surfaces. Getting familiar with the tread patterns and lug depths helps immensely because it allows you to recognise the shoes that work well on the terrain you chose for your hike. 

The harder and flatter the surface, the smaller the lugs. But, because wet weather means soft ground and additional elements like snow, mud and slush, we recommend looking for deep lugs: 4mm and above. The distance between the lugs should grow as the terrain gets stickier.

This image from trail running shoe tests shows the difference the best: first being a road-to-trail shoe with cramped shallow lugs, second being a shoe with deep lugs (many of them) and third being a shoe great for mud, with lugs that are further apart and very deep

3 different outsole types in trail running shoes

Because of this, mud shoes (both trail running shoes and hiking shoes) have deep lugs with a lot of space between them to help them shed mud more easily. Regular soft-ground shoes can also have deep lugs if they need to bite into the ground but can be more dense. 

If the wet surfaces you’re hiking on are rather flat, we recommend softer rubber, which is usually better for such terrain, it is stickier than hard rubber. Among the most common ones is the Vibram Megagrip. In the lab, we measure the softness of the outsole with a durometer (shore HC). The lower the reading, the softer the rubber. 

How durable are waterproof hiking shoes

The durability of the softer rubber is usually worse than that of the harder rubber. Because of this, we recommend using deep-lug hiking shoes on soft ground and not on hard, flat surfaces. 

To determine the durability of the outsole, we press a Dremel against it and use a tread tyre gauge to measure the dent the Dremel has made. This tells us how durable the outsole is - the bigger the damage (the dent), the less durable it is.

Dent on the outsole Dremel results

Different dent depths made by our Dremel

When it comes to testing the durability of the upper, we also use the Dremel but we then visually assess the damage on a scale of 1, for the least durable, to 5, for the most durable. 

In the example below, we can see a hiking shoe on the left, which got the highest rating for durability (5/5), and on the right, a shoe that scored 2/5. 

Different upper durability test results in hiking shoes

How to prevent water from getting into your hiking shoes

Use the gaiters! Ideally the knee-high ones. They are lightweight, pack easily, and can basically save the day. They also come in a waterproof version. 

Waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant: explanation 

This comparison explains all 3 types of shoe uppers that can, to some extent, deal with water: water-resistant, water-repellent and waterproof.

  Water-resistant Water-repellent Waterproof
General characteristics a tightly woven fabric that is naturally capable of resisting water upon contact fabric treated with durable water-repellent (DWR) or hydrophobic chemicals - fabric treated with DWR
- have waterproofing membranes like Gore-Tex and OutDry
- have seam-sealed construction for extra protection
Water protection level low water protection moderate water protection high water protection
Water pressure resistance 0-5000 mm (no pressure or moisture) 6000-10000 mm (light pressure) 10000-20000 mm (high to very high pressure)
Weather conditions best used in light rain shower and dry snow light rain and average snow moderate to heavy rain and average to wet snow

If you’re new to buying hiking shoes, make sure the fit is right!

In case this is your first pair of hiking shoes, here are are recommendations on the shopping process: 

  1. Go shopping or try the shoes out later in the day, afternoon or evening. Our feet are naturally swollen then a bit from the whole day of activities and it is similar to what happens on hikes. 
  2. Take the socks you plan to hike in with you and try the shoes on with them. Also use your orthotics if you have them. 
  3. Look for the best comfort possible. There should be no hotspots and the shoe should not feel loose. Hikers prefer being able to put 1 finger behind the heel into the shoe when the foot is pushed forward to the max. 
  4. Use the ramp to test the shoe completely, on uphills, downhills, uneven terrain. You should experience a perfect lockdown: no heel slipping, no feet sliding to the sides
  5. Take into account that you might need to break the shoes in. 


Please, read our beginner-friendly guide on hiking shoes. It covers all the necessary steps you should take to ensure you get the best hiking shoes for your needs. 

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic
Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.