Best Hiking Shoes 2022 | Hiking Shoes for Men and Women – runnersworld.com

Best Hiking Shoes 2022 | Hiking Shoes for Men and Women  runnersworld.com

Staff, Courtesy of Brooks

Although we love the durability and support of a good pair of hiking boots, many hikers these days are leaning toward lighter, more flexible sneakers as their go-to hiking shoes. These hiking shoes look a lot like trail runners, and in fact, many of our favorite models are actually trail-running shoes. Regardless of their intended use, these 10 hiking shoes will carry you for hundreds of miles, whether you’re in the woods, bagging peaks, or heading out on a relaxed recovery walk around your local trail system.

Best Hiking Shoes

Most Comfortable

Altra Lone Peak 6 Altra
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Best Traction

Hoka Speedgoat 5 Hoka
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Most Versatile

Saucony Peregrine 12 Saucony
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Best Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Keen NXIS Evo Waterproof Shoe Keen
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Most Durable

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Merrell
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The Expert: I’ve been hiking and trail running for as long as I can remember. I’ve also been professionally testing and reviewing trail shoes for seven years, hiking thousands of miles in minimalist styles and ultra-beefy off-trail shoes. I understand how various terrain demands different support underfoot and what features appeal to all sorts of hikers. I also see what the hiking community is wearing on long-distance trails. My gear reviews and other work has appeared in Backpacker, Outside, Backpacking Light, and The Trek, among other outlets. And two years ago, I cofounded , a website that connects backpackers with long-distance trails across the country.

Find the Best Hiking Shoes for You

When you’re shopping for a hiking shoe, consider the terrain and conditions you’re most likely to encounter, as well as intended use. For trails that are more on the technical, rugged side, look for a traditional hiking shoe with multidirectional lugs for traction, a rock plate for foot protection, and burlier upper material, like suede, to hold up against overgrown trails. If you plan to combine hiking and trail running on the same outing (or want a shoe that can do both), find a more flexible trail-running shoe that’s lighter and easier to break in than a true hiking shoe. Additionally, models designed for trail running have more propulsive midsole foam and sometimes a rocker design, both of which can delay fatigue and amp up speed. On more established trails, you won’t need the same level of traction and support as a true hiking or trail shoe, so a sneaker with shorter lugs and less aggressive tread will work just fine.

Related: Get Ready to Explore With the Best Hiking GearThe Best Trekking Poles So You Can Go the DistanceHow to Make Hiking Your New Form of Cross-Training

Waterproof versus non-waterproof construction is another important choice when deciding on a hiking shoe. Waterproof membranes, such as Gore-Tex, eVent, or a company’s proprietary membrane, offer increased protection from wet conditions but won’t dry out as fast if your shoe gets submerged. This limited breathability has led many trail runners and some hikers to prefer non-waterproof shoes. That’s why we mostly suggest non-waterproof hiking shoes below, but many of our recommended models are available in (slightly more expensive) waterproof versions, too.

I recommend trying any hiking shoe on before committing. The wrong shoe can impact your stride, cause blisters, or make your hike less pleasant. Once you find a shoe that works for you, stick with it. Most brands update their top-sellers with new materials and construction every year or two.

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How We Evaluate Hiking Shoes

To recommend the best hiking shoes, I considered types of terrain, potential conditions, and distance each model is best suited for, along with general market trends. Whether you’re most likely to encounter steep, rocky terrain or rocky, wooded trails, there’s a shoe in here for you. Some models that made the cut work best for long days in the mountains, and others are fast-and-light shoes that serve you best on afternoon outings on local trails. All of them offer excellent out-of-the-box performance and require little break-in time—something I can personally vouch for. I have tested all of these models on trails ranging from steep alpine scree fields to the sandy desert and worn them in many conditions during all four seasons. For each model, the weight listed, per half pair, is a men’s size 9 and a women’s size 7.

Most Comfortable

Altra Lone Peak 6

Key Specs

  • Drop: 0 mm
  • Waterproof: Optional
  • Weight (½ pair): 10.6 oz (M), 8.7 oz (W)

Over the past few years, Altra’s reputation for comfortable shoes that hold up on extended hikes has helped make the brand one of the most popular in the hiking community. The Lone Peak is the star of the show, landing in the middle of the brand’s range of models with just enough cushioning and build without feeling excessive. Altra’s wide toe box is designed to encourage a more natural toe-sprawling stride that’s enhanced by the zero-drop construction. The Lone Peak features a generous 25-millimeter stack height that provides plenty of protection but still feels stable, and the upper on this most recent iteration has proven to be more durable than previous versions.

Best Traction

Hoka Speedgoat 5

Key Specs

  • Drop: 4 mm
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 10.3 oz (M), 8.5 oz (W)

Hoka is perhaps best known for its maximum-cushion shoes, and with a stack height of 32 millimeters in the heel and 28 millimeters in the toe, the Speedgoat is right up there. But it’s far from all fluff. The 5-millimeter lugs and strategic zonal rubber placement on the burly Vibram outsole enhance grip and support to deliver some of the best traction—in both wet and dry conditions—of any trail shoes we’ve tested. The Speedgoat fits snugly throughout, which means more stability on tricky terrain, but it might feel too narrow for some people, despite a recent update to widen the toe box. Keep in mind that some people have trouble getting used to such a maximalist shoe, and it can feel unsteady at first, so watch your ankle rolls.

Most Versatile

Saucony Peregrine 12

Saucony

Key Specs

  • Drop: 4 mm
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 9.7 oz (M), 8.3 oz (W)

The Saucony Peregrine is a terrific trail shoe that works well on a wide range of terrain without ever feeling overly engineered. The Peregrine is incredibly secure and comfortable, with an updated heel cup for a more stable fit around narrower ankles. Saucony simplified the upper by eliminating some of the plastic overlays so the shoe has better flexion. It feels stable on a variety of terrain, and the outsole and midsole construction fall so much into the middle ground between a road and trail shoe that I’m comfortable wearing these almost anywhere. I like the rock plate protection, but the updated midsole construction also reduces ground feel compared to the previous design.

Best Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Keen NXIS Evo Waterproof Shoe

Key Specs

  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 13.4 oz (M), 10.8 (W)

The Keen NXIS Evo is specifically designed as a hiking shoe, with a heavily reinforced forefoot to protect against stubbed toes and a waterproof upper that manages to be as breathable as possible while keeping you dry. The shoe uses Keen’s horseshoe-shaped tread for more stability throughout your entire foot strike on uneven terrain and boasts 4-millimeter multidirectional lugs as well as a springy, cushioned midsole. On top of the proven performance, we love the PFC-free materials that make these shoes more environmentally friendly.

Most Durable

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Merrell

Key Specs

  • Drop: 11 mm
  • Waterproof: Optional
  • Weight: 15.5 oz (M), 13.5 oz (W)

Unlike the trail running shoes on this list, the Merrell Moab Ventilator is a classic hiking shoe. This shoe has long stood the test of time for hikers of all generations and is a burly, durable option that still feels comfortable out of the box. The shoe has excellent support, especially in the arch, and is one of the best options for people who want a boot-like fit without the confinement of covered ankles. The Vibram outsole provides solid traction on varying terrain, and though the 11-millimeter drop might seem high, it’s fairly standard for a hiking shoe. We like how well the suede-and-mesh upper resists abrasions, but be aware that it will take longer to dry than the mesh found on lighter trail runners. The Moab Ventilator isn’t waterproof, but plenty of models in the line are .

A Great Fit for Most Feet

Brooks Cascadia 16

Brooks

Key Specs

  • Drop: 8 mm
  • Waterproof: Optional
  • Weight: 10.5 oz (M), 9.5 oz (W)

The Brooks Cascadia is one of the most popular all-around hiking and trail shoes, as evidenced by its 16 iterations. This shoe can fit the bill for just about anyone. It’s wide enough to feel non-constricting without being so wide that your foot moves around, and the out-of-the-box comfort is top-notch. Despite its lightweight build, we love how protective this shoe is. This is thanks, in part, to the rock plate and the EVA foam–based midsole, which feels springy, responsive, and keeps things flexible. The lug pattern is less aggressive than other hiking shoes, though, so you won’t have the best grip on slick rocks or in mud.

Best for Long Hikes

Altra Olympus 4

Key Specs

  • Drop: 0 mm
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 11.6 oz (M), 9.6 oz (M)

For hikers who want Altra’s zero-drop and wide toe-box design and the maximum cushion, the Olympus is your answer. This shoe combines the features of a highly cushioned shoe without losing the brand’s hallmark wide FootShape toe box and zero-drop heel-to-toe build. With a lofty 33-millimeter stack height, this shoe keeps you off the ground with a springy, responsive midsole that doesn’t feel like it absorbs too much energy on each footfall. The Olympus has a rounded heel cup that keeps your foot secure, and the brand recently updated the upper with a more breathable mesh. Like all Altra trail shoes, the outsole is built with Vibram Megagrip molded with multidirectional lugs for stellar wet and dry traction.

Best for Steep Terrain

La Sportiva Akasha II

La Sportiva

Key Specs

  • Drop: 6 mm
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 10.9 oz (M), 9.2 oz (W)

The Akasha is available in the US for the first time in several years, with an updated fit and materials in the upper for enhanced breathability, comfort, and security on steep trail sections. It’s one of La Sportiva’s more cushioned shoes, which makes the Akasha a great option for longer outings, as well as combination run-hikes. The taller stack height—25 millimeters in the forefoot and 31 millimeters in the heel—means more cushion for rugged terrain, and the updated heel counter and lacing harness help provide an all-around secure fit that’s turned out to be incredibly versatile for a variety of foot shapes. The forefoot uses a molded overlay for more durability and protection, and the midsole is an injected EVA to help reduce impact on rocky trails. The Akasha does excellent on steep terrain, thanks to multidirectional lugs and a proprietary stabilization technology on both sides of the midsole, which help reduce torsion while maintaining stability and control.

Best for Off-Trail Scrambles

Garmont Dragontail

Garmont

Key Specs

  • Drop: 15 mm
  • Waterproof: Optional
  • Weight: 14.3 oz (M), 12.3 oz (W)

The Garmont Dragontail combines a hiking shoe with an approach shoe, which means you can feel confident on a variety of loose, technical tread and off-trail scrambles. Although some people prefer mid-height boots on technical terrain for the additional ankle support, the narrower wrap of the Dragontail’s upper keeps the shoe secure on unstable trail sections. The front of the shoe has rubber blocking that can grip unpredictable terrain and protect your toes from impact. The interesting asymmetric cuff height keeps the shoe from rubbing against the outside of your ankle while supporting on the inside which has a taller cuff.

Best Cushioning

Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3

Arc’teryx

Key Specs

  • Drop: 6 mm
  • Waterproof: Optional
  • Weight: 9.3 oz (M), 8 oz (W)

The Norvan LD 3’s “anti-fatigue” insert—a section of stiffer compression-molded EVA foam—works wonders when it comes to absorbing shock and adding pep to your step. I love the lightweight, single-layer mesh upper that kept my foot cool without sacrificing upper durability. The shoe follows the trend of a wider toe box to help with traction and overall toe splay comfort, and the Vibram Megagrip outsole features deep, biting 4-millimeter lugs designed to grab unstable terrain in wet and dry conditions. The lightweight, airy shoe does wonderfully on hot days, with some of the best breathability we’ve experienced in a true hiking shoe.

What Shoes to Lace Up and Gear to Bring on Your Next Hike, According to Expert Maggie Slepian

RW: Do you prefer your hiking shoes to have a waterproof membrane or not?

M.S: I prefer a non-waterproof hiking shoe. I have one pair of winter hiking boots with insulation and waterproof protection, but for my three-season shoes, I find the lighter weight and increased breathability make up for most of the benefits of a waterproof membrane. I wear mostly low-top shoes, so I’m likely to get my feet wet during creek crossings anyway, because the water will come in through the top of the shoe regardless of whether or not it is waterproof. I always wear wicking socks, so if my feet get wet, my socks help them dry quickly, and a non-waterproof shoe is going to dry faster than a saturated waterproof shoe.

RW: Is it okay to wear road running shoes or sneakers while hiking? When should readers upgrade to shoes designed specifically for trails?

M.S: You can absolutely wear road-running shoes or sneakers while hiking. Most sneakers will have adequate midsole protection, secure lacing, and enough traction for easy to moderate trails. Once you get more into the backcountry or on more rugged and technical trails, I’d recommend switching to a hiking-specific shoe or a trail-running shoe. Trail running shoes or hiking shoes will typically have a deeper lug pattern optimized for traction on a variety of surfaces, as well as increased protection through the midsole for rocky, rooty terrain that might feel like it’s bruising your feet in a lighter pair of road-running shoes. But if you’re just starting out or sticking to more maintained trails? Your road-running shoes will work just fine, though you should expect the soles to wear out faster.

RW: What other hiking essentials do you bring with you for day hikes?

M.S: My day-hiking kit consists of a running-vest style pack (I love the ), two soft-flask bottles, a light jacket like the , and some quick energy like gels or . If I’m heading out on an all-day hike where I know there’s water along the way, I carry a water bottle with a filter like the screwed on top, and an extra lightweight-but-warm layer like the .

Maggie Slepian is a full-time freelance writer in the outdoor industry and has tested gear professionally for almost ten years—she is an avid backpacker, trail runner, bikepacker, and horseback rider and has thru-hiked thousands of miles on the Appalachian, Colorado, and Ouachita trails, along with backcountry travel on terrain including coastal trails, the desert, and high alpine peaks.

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