Hiking is all the rage these days, and we’ve got a selection of the best hiking boots to trek in, from lightweight to reinforced and everything in between.
Picking what shoes to take hiking isn’t as simple as a trade-off between strength and dexterity – although those are two very important things – but a valuation of different membranes, breathability, grip, traction, cushioning.
For example, some shoes are lighter than others, and very dedicated hiking enthusiasts will weigh them to the gram. Some will protect you from a light pitter-patter and some would protect you from floods. There’s the interference of panelling on durability, materials to consider, weaves and construction. It all gets very complex.
Fortunately, hundreds of shoes fly across our desks (and into our virtual inboxes) every month, which means that we’ve got a good understanding of who does what well – and why.
We’ve gathered a small handful of our favourite hiking shoes – all for different reasons – and presented them below.
Salomon’s Quest range needs no introduction in the hiking community. Head up any decent mountain, complete with loose shale and rough terrain, and these’ll be your best friends. Despite the bulk, these Salomons are light for their size, and offer a nice middle ground between tank-like reinforcement and running shoe comfort.
This pair, the Element Gore-Tex, as the name suggests, is loaded with Gore-Tex’s infamous weatherproof technology, letting the foot breathe as the water stays out. Add this to a list of hardy specs, and you’ve got a solid and reliable boot for rough terrains.
While the Salomon above excels in protection, this On Running Cloudrock excels in comfort. Technically designer for speed-hiking, the Cloudrock is based around the brand’s trademark Swiss design: Cloudtech.
Hollow pods – AKA clouds – create a channel of thick treads that maximise comfort while ensuring the shoe is lightweight and maximises cushioning and explosive power. It’s a genius bit of tech. This pair is even treated with a waterproof membrane.
Merrell is the American functional footwear OGs. Starting life in 1981, the brand ran analogous to Nike’s Hiking and ACG range throughout the ’90s, often sharing similar names and silhouettes. Nike’s Mowabb was released in 1991, Merrell’s Moab was released in 2007. Both subtly referencing an area in Utah, Merrell’s has the advantage of standing for “mother of all boots,” too.
The Merrell Moab Mid 2 GORE-TEX boot is bolstered with AirCushion, an EVA foam midsole, and a Vibram® outsole for supreme comfort, making the shoe perfect for adventuring in all terrains.
Keen is a brand that’s close to home – not physically, considering they’re based in Portland, but spiritually – considering we put them on the cover of Proper 37.
The Targhee III is a proper boot that builds on a variety of Keen’s in-house pioneered technologies, lending the shoe towards high degrees of comfort, waterproofing and protection.
If the past few boots have all played up to the classic hiking boot aesthetic model, then the ROA Andreas – and ROA in general – is decidedly different, looking not to the deserts of Utah for inspiration but the craters of Luna.
ROA is decidedly fashion, with the Andreas’ white laces on black boot playing with negative space. Vibram soles and subtle branding elevate the boot while keeping it functional.
The Danner Mountain 600 is a classic all-leather walking boot, eschewing the modern world’s appreciation for patches and panels in favour of a classic lumberjack-esque smoothness (well, ruggedness, really).
This is the sort of shoe you skin a deer in. Or chop wood in. They’re not overly technical and they don’t hide behind an assortment of abbreviated terms. They’re honest. Honest boots for honest folks.
Okay, these aren’t boots but we can’t really write a list without referencing our favourite walkers – Mephisto’s Rainbow. We probably write about them enough here, but Mephisto is the height of French comfort and we’ve been fans for as long as the magazine has run.
They sit somewhere between a trainer and a boot, perfect for impromptu trips to Edale and long Sunday walks around idyllic country towns with funny names.
The last shoe on here is an absolute wild card. Originally released in 2019, you either love Suicoke x Aime Leon Dore’s Hobbs or you hate it and we get the feeling most people hate it but that isn’t the point. You probably don’t want to hike in it either. But it’s a boot and it’s outrageous and we love it.
Japanese inclinations with Ivy League execution? That’s basically how Beams started. Also, this is pre them weird Yeezy moon boot things so it’s actually way ahead of the trends.