The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


When you’re moving through the wilderness, having the right gear helps keep your mind and body free to experience nature without unnecessary distractions. As the foundation of your gear, a comfortable, technically sound pair of hiking boots can set you up for an experience to remember.

Our team has years of experience hiking and backpacking through a wide range of landscapes, and we’ve become quite picky when it comes to finding the best hiking boots. We’re especially keen on boots that maximize comfort while meeting technical requirements to help keep your mind on the objective at hand.

Through the testing process, we primarily focused on comfort, traction, support, and durability. Secondary factors included value, style, and weight. After years of hiking and months of testing the newest options out there, we’ve compiled a list of what we truly believe to be the best hiking boots for men and women.

Because all feet are unique, there’s no single boot that works for every hiker. We’ve divided this list into categories to help you find the best boot for you. For more help choosing the right boot, we’ve included a complete buyer’s guide along with a handy comparison table and FAQ.

Scroll through the list, or jump to the category you’re interested in below:

The Best Hiking Boots of 2023

Best Overall Hiking Boots

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX


  • Weight 1 lb. 14.4 oz. (pair)
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Polyurethane-coated leather/textile
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Minimal break-in time
  • Lightweight
  • Stable and supportive


  • Narrow toebox may restrict those with wider feet
  • Somewhat easy for lace to come out of shallow hook eyelet while bushwhacking
The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX ($175) is a very comfortable, fairly light, waterproof boot that meets technical requirements for both backcountry objectives and day hikes. It’s a comfortable fit for many hikers right out of the box. Our testing, both on and off the trail, left us looking forward to more miles in these boots.

Thanks to its burly Contagrip outsole, this boot provides ideal traction for a wide range of surfaces. We used them on dirt-packed and rocky trails, and even steep, rutted-out muddy roads while turkey hunting. Whether on quick trips or overnight excursions, they kept us on our feet and in control.

The Ultra 4 update brings a revamped chassis to this crowd-favorite, improving support and adding more confidence without sacrificing freedom of movement. Dubbed the “Advanced Chassis” (ADV/C), a molded insert in the outsole affords solid lateral support while still keeping the front flexible enough for unrestricted movement. This comparative lack of support was a slight complaint we had with the last model, and we think the brand addressed it well.

One con we did notice fairly quickly was how easily the lace tends to slip free of the single hook eyelet in the ankle during off-trail travel. The eyelets are quite shallow and don’t “grip” the laces as well as some similar models we tested. This isn’t a problem for regular trekking, but something to consider if significant bushwhacking is on the docket, as twigs and branches tend to yank the laces out of the hook.

The GORE-TEX liner provides industry-leading waterproofing and reasonable breathability for cold through temperately warm weather, though we did find that the lower cut was susceptible to letting water in at a certain depth.

At just under a pound per boot (1 pound 14.4 ounces per pair — a bit lighter than the previous model), the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX are quite light for a supportive, mid-height hiker with technical capabilities. Overall, we think they’re the best hiking boots on the market.

For more info, check out our comprehensive review of the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX (previous model).
Best Budget Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof


  • Weight 2 lbs. 0.7 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Pigskin leather/mesh
  • Width Standard or wide options
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable


  • Wide fit doesn’t work for narrow feet
  • Bulky
At 32 ounces for the pair, the Moab 3 ($145) features a zonal arch, reinforced heel support, and an EVA footbed for added comfort and security. They’re ideal for individuals looking for support, especially in the arch, but they don’t provide the natural footbed some are looking for these days.

The recently updated Moab 3 features a more supportive insole, a cozier midsole, and a revamped Vibram outsole for improved traction and confidence. They also crafted the new Moab with sustainable materials, making this the most environmentally friendly iteration yet.

The breathable mesh upper is reinforced by a suede leather overlay for increased durability. And despite the mesh, which improves breathability, the shoes proved to be completely waterproof through eight river crossings.

“These hiking boots are made for folks with high arches, and they’re so comfy the first time you put them on,” said one tester who took the pair up gullies, through meadows, and across many streams to treeline.

The Moab 3 boots are simple and durable, ideal for traditionalists looking for a classic look. We also like that they’re super easy to lace up and tighten down, which adds to their functionality around camp. As a perennial favorite, they’ve proven to be some of the best hiking boots you can get for less than $150.
Runner-Up Best Hiking Boots

SCARPA Rush Mid GTX Shoe


  • Weight 1 lb. 8 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard to narrow
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Reinforced toebox adds long-term durability
  • Lightweight and nimble
  • Outsole is especially grippy on boulders and slabs


  • Narrow toebox may not suit hikers with wide feet
  • Runs small
With a traditional feel and a modern look, the SCARPA Rush Mid GTX ($199) has the support and protection of a mid-height, waterproof hiker, and blew us away with its astronomical levels of cushioning.

The magic in the design comes from SCARPA’s traction-enhancing, shock-absorbing concave impact zones that compress and absorb energy as you walk. As soon as we weighted the shoe, the impact zones flexed so the boot’s secondary lugs could bite into the trail for increased traction where it was needed the most.

The Rush’s synthetic mesh upper has supportive welded overlays with a padded, softly lined collar for lightweight, dynamic ankle support that still allows for natural mobility. Its GORE-TEX Extended Comfort lining kept our feet dry, and also provided a surprising degree of breathability.

We wore the Rush Mid GTX boot for speed hikes with and without a pack, and for overnight trips carrying significantly more weight. The versatility and confidence-inspiring design combine for a remarkably comfortable, traditional feel, all of which is enhanced by material that’s lighter than what we’ve seen in other SCARPA hikers in the past. They tend to run small, and might not be ideal for those with wider feet, especially if your feet are wider in the forefoot.
Best Hiking Boots for Backpacking

Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX


  • Weight 2 lbs. 11.2 oz. (men’s size 9)
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather and synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Highly supportive
  • Ideal for backpacking with heavy loads
  • Durable


  • Requires a significant break-in period
  • Too bulky for easy and moderate hiking
Salomon makes a wide range of hiking boots, but the Quest is its elite model. The latest edition of the Quest is the fourth generation, and it’s lighter, grippier, and more supportive than ever before. We tested the Quest 4 ($230) while hiking through the alpine desert of Western Colorado, and it handled loose trails and rocky scrambles in style.

Compared to other Salomon shoes, the Quest 4 feels stiff, heavy, and robust. If you aren’t used to wearing burly, ankle-high hiking boots, these will require some getting used to and a substantial break-in period.

Let us be clear: This is a serious boot that is designed for backpacking with heavy loads. If you’re seeking a shoe for casual day hikes and quick mountain jaunts, the Quest 4 isn’t it.

The outsole of the Quest 4 features an aggressive tread and widely spaced lugs. Rugged trail conditions should be no problem for these boots — sand, mud, snow, and scree are all well within the capabilities of the Quest 4.

One of the key characteristics of the Quest 4 is its tall ankle height. The high-top design is especially handy while hiking through muck or shallow streams.

While hauling a fully stuffed backpacking pack, the tall cuff offers noticeable protection against rolling an ankle. However, it also limits mobility and feels a bit clunky at first — especially when the boots are cinched down tight.

Though the Quest 4s are stiff through the sole, they do soften up and break in after a few days on the trail. A GORE-TEX membrane and water-resistant upper reliably keep moisture out, but the boot’s overall breathability does suffer as a result. We also found that this boot runs a little large with a roomy toebox that can easily accommodate wider feet.

Overall, Salomon’s top-of-the-line Quest 4 is an outstanding backpacking boot. If you plan to trek for many miles through variable terrain with plenty of cargo on your back, these are the best hiking boots we’d recommend.
Best Hiking Boots for Rough Terrain

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX Boot


  • Weight 2 lbs. 11.7 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Good on various terrain including rock, trail, and steep snow
  • Compatible with crampons
  • Lightweight for a mountaineering boot


  • Not as durable as burlier mountaineering boots
  • Not quite supportive or stable enough for technical ice travel
  • Lacks a toe welt
Developed in collaboration with legendary climber Steve House, the La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX ($279) is a highly advanced hiking boot ideal for especially technical terrain. While comfortable and versatile, it’s also a pretty capable mountaineering boot for snowy summits.

While the appearance lends it to high-altitude endeavors, we put it to the test on multi-day hikes spanning dozens of miles in extremely tough alpine terrain and found it to be a stellar performer, both on and off the trail.

While the Trango Tech GTX has features suitable for mountaineering — its “climbing zone” with a sticky rubber edge on the front of the sole and “to-the-toe” lacing — it’s light enough at 21.8 ounces for long miles on the trail through more casual terrain. The weight factor does, however, limit its long-term durability.

This premium boot has a GORE-TEX liner to ensure waterproofness. Having slogged through running streams and mud for miles, we can attest that it keeps feet dry, even when exposed to constant moisture. It uses rugged, durable fabrics for the upper, which doesn’t take away from its breathability, even in fairly warm weather.

Our tests saw temps soar into the 80s, and while our feet did get warm, they were never unbearably hot or swampy — an impressive quality for such a burly boot.

Other things we love about the boot: the gusset-free tongue, the 3D Flex system for precise support on rough terrain, and the low-profile but grippy outsole/midsole.

Overall, this is a great boot if your hikes take you to high, remote places beyond the end of the trail.

For more, read our full review of the La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX.
Best of the Rest

KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid


  • Weight 2 lbs. 2.8 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard or wide
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Good value, affordable compared to similar options
  • Supportive and stable without feeling clunky


  • Not well-suited to narrow feet
  • KEEN’s waterproofing is not as effective as other options
  • Not ideal for rugged off-trail use
The Targhee III ($175) is the most recent version of a KEEN mainstay. This boot has been in its lineup for a very long time, and for a good reason — it’s a versatile hiking boot for a wide range of people.

At just over 2 pounds per pair, these boots are reasonably light for a durable boot. It’s waterproof, using KEEN’s proprietary KEEN.DRY membrane. And it’s very comfortable right out of the box, with a minimal break-in period for most users, though it may not be an ideal fit for those with very narrow feet.

Our first test was on a hike of about 12 miles over variable terrain with rocky and sometimes muddy conditions. The boot performed as expected, keeping the feet happy, offering optimal traction and, most importantly, leaving us with no blisters.

With a comparable level of support, weight, and a similar appearance, the Targhee III is a direct competitor to the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX. With so many similarities, the primary difference is its higher-volume fit, making it a better option for those with wider feet, or those simply looking for a roomier fit.

Both are some of the best hiking boots that should hold up for years of hiking and backcountry exploration. The Targhee III is particularly attractive for those looking for reasonably priced lightweight performance that doesn’t sacrifice durability.

The North Face VECTIV Exploris Mid FUTURELIGHT


  • Weight 1 lb. 11.3 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Stable
  • Tunable lacing
  • Conserves energy


  • Rockered profile takes some wear to get used to
If you’ve ever felt like you’re running out of energy mid-hike, this could be the shoe for you. The North Face’s VECTIV Exploris Mid FUTURELIGHT ($169) hiker has an elliptical shape that literally rolls you into your next step, providing an extra push to help you conserve energy as you stride along the trail.

The energetic feel of this shoe comes from a rockered midsole that propels you forward with each step. While this feature can make it an energy saver for some, we’d recommend giving it a try, as some prefer a more natural footfall.

This technology is paired with a 3D plate between the midsole and sole that wraps up the sides of the boot for lateral stability. In testing, this feature also protected our feet from rocks on uneven trails.

Although the VECTIV Exploris is rockered, a feature that can make some shoes feel wobbly, we felt exceptionally stable and confident in this shoe. Many hiking shoes and boots have protective plates in the midsole.

By extending that plate up the shoe’s sidewalls and also wrapping it around the heel, The North Face’s designers were able to add functional stability that provides confidence-inspiring ankle support.

This boot’s Y-shaped lugs have zonal traction for general stability. Also, the harder lugs on the perimeter of the forefoot gave this boot extra bite when testing conditions were soft, slick, or rocky.

Adding to the many traction features of this shoe, the heel had aggressive braking lugs that helped us maintain control during descents — the dreaded downhill that can prove treacherous. The sole is also anatomically scored, which provides a fluid, natural feel through each footfall.

The VECTIV Exploris’s meshy upper is lined with The North Face’s FUTURELIGHT waterproof fabric, a light, breathable material that kept our feet dry and comfortable, even on warmer days.

The boot’s lacing doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, but integrates a key feature — the lace guides lock in the laces every time they cross the tongue of the boot, making the lacing zonal and easily adjustable.

Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2


  • Weight 1 lb. 9.6 oz.
  • Waterproofing No, but they are water-resistant
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Wide, extra wide in the toebox
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Light
  • Accomodating toe box
  • Supportive
  • Sheds mud


  • Not as much rock protection as some shoes
  • Due to lightweight design, not as durable as more traditional hikers
At 13 ounces per shoe (men’s size 10 on our scales), the Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2 ($190) is one of the lightest, most versatile hiking boots you can buy. It’s nimble and fast, feeling more like a running shoe with the addition of mid-height ankle support.

Altra’s signature ultrawide toebox leaves the feet plenty of space for a natural footfall and gives the toes room to splay. These features helped us hike longer miles without foot pain and constriction, and prevented the onset of blisters or hot spots.

When we wore this hiker in cooler temps, the internal space actually helped our toes stay warm. The natural shape allowed constant blood flow to reach the toes, and there was space for warm air to circulate.

These boots use an eVent bootie to keep feet dry. The membrane truly breathes, making this one of the least sweaty water-resistant shoes we’ve tested. That said, it’s not fully waterproof in submersion, but more accurately water-resistant. This makes it ideal for hiking where you might encounter shallow creeks and the forecast shows the potential for thunderstorms.

The Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2 has a springy insole that gives the boots a running shoe feel, putting some spring in your step and allowing your feet to flex as they would naturally on varied terrain.

The sole’s directional V-shaped lugs were grippy on rocks and roots, but are just shallow enough to not get packed with mud. Due to its ultra-lightweight design, the lugs do wear down faster than heavier, thick-soled boots. The updated All-Weather Mid 2 does have a MaxTrac outsole that boosts traction and durability from previous models.

The sole extends slightly longer than the body of the boot in the back, which reflects Altra’s attention to the natural shape of the heel where it meets the Achilles. This made rolling through each step feel natural and smooth.

A gusseted tongue kept water out when we misjudged the depth of a puddle. It also kept out fir needles, leafy debris, sand, shale, and the common off-trail annoyances that tried to creep in on various hikes.

The 25mm stack height felt lower in the heel than others we tested, which keeps unnecessary pressure off the toes and proved to be super comfortable over long days with extended mileage.

Overall, those with experience in zero-drop footwear should find the Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2 an ideal option for a variety of excursions. That said, there is an adjustment period for those used to boots with arch support and heel elevation. For those acclimated to zero-drop footwear, these are probably the best hiking boots for you.

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5 Mid GTX


  • Weight 1 lb. 8.8 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Great traction and grip (5mm lugs)
  • Versatile


  • Not the most breathable
  • Some found issues with sizing; try a pair on first
Half trail runner, half boot, HOKA’s Speedgoat 5 Mid GTX ($180) is one of our favorite fast hikers. HOKA took the design of its popular grippy trail runner — the Speedgoat — and upgraded it with more cushion, ankle support, and a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane to protect you from the elements on the trail.

At 12.4 ounces per shoe, these hiking boots are a great choice for backpacking and other fast hiking endeavors. And while it’s definitely on pace to function as a trail runner (with a little extra protection), it functions great as a hiker too, offering versatility on par with the Lone Peak All Weather 2 (reviewed above).

In terms of a hiking boot, the Speedgoat 5 Mid has everything you could want: ankle support with robust collars, cushion, good traction, and a lighter-weight, flexible design that moves with your feet as you go. A GORE-TEX membrane bootie wraps the shoe, keeping you protected from water, mud, and any other moisture-laden terrain, though this feature does limit its breathability.

Our testers loved the fit and noticed the boot wasn’t too stiff upon breaking in. It’s also perfect for varied, multi-surface terrain and trails that involve more technical elements, like hiking through boulder fields, scrambling, or making small stream crossings. The HOKA Speedgoat 5 Mid can handle almost anything, making it one of the more versatile options on this list.

If you’re looking for a less traditional “boot” and more of a shoe that will work for trail running, hiking, and anything in between, the HOKA Speedgoat 5 Mid might just be your next favorite shoe.

Salewa Pedroc Pro Mid PTX


  • Weight 1 lb. 11 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Lightweight but durable
  • Agressive lug pattern
  • Uses sustainable materials


  • Difficult to fine-tune-adjust the ankle
Want to feel comfortably invincible while charging hard in wet, sloppy terrain? The cozy, crazy durable Pedroc Pro Mid PTX Boots ($200) are the shoes for you.

We took the Pedrocs on some wild excursions bushwhacking up muddy Appalachian slopes, parkouring through boulder-strewn creek beds, and galivanting over technical alpine terrain, and this boot leaves very little to be desired. Then, even after serious torture, they look sleek and stylish enough to trot around town after the adventure. Gotta love getting compliments in Target while running errands post-hike.   

Durable boots often feel like a ball and chain on fast and light adventures, but this shoe rides the line between clunky durability and lightweight comfort almost perfectly. The Powertex waterproof, yet breathable, membrane is paired with a ripstop TPU rand meshed with Kevlar cables to deliver lightweight strength with a smooth, soft ride. These things are going to last for years of abuse but won’t wear you down in the process.

We felt confident bombing down scree slopes or cruising over muddy, root-strewn trails in these, and our legs weren’t exhausted afterward. They seem to shine on speedy missions. The Pomoca Speed Hiker Pro outsole has an aggressive multidirectional lug pattern that grabs sludgy terrain and refuses to let go. Additionally, it almost has that sticky rubber feel of an approach shoe, giving you stability as you navigate rocky terrain.

Cons? It was honestly hard to find any, but we did wish for a little more fine-tune adjustability around the ankles, as there is only one hook eyelet and the ankle rides a bit higher than others. The minimalist silhouette does contribute to its light 780-gram weight though.

Designed for speed hiking through rough, unpredictable landscapes, the Pedroc Pro Mid PTX Boots would be great for the hiker who knows they’ll be cranking fast but still needs top-notch protection from the elements.

SCARPA Maverick Mid GTX


  • Weight 1 lb. 0.2 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Light
  • Breathable
  • Agile


  • Less stable than some options
  • Less aggressive lug pattern
Lighter and more breathable than its cousin, the Zodiac Plus GTX, SCARPA’s new Maverick Mid GTX ($199) offers a more agile, modern, athletic design. With companies like Altra and HOKA churning out hybrid boots that are just as suitable for a hike or a run, SCARPA went lighter and offered a bit more flex with this option, hoping to cater to new and old-school adventurers alike.

Synthetic leather and polyester combine with a GORE-TEX layer to provide extensive waterproofing. While its acceptable breathability functions well in cooler weather, there is a trade-off for the level of waterproofing. On hotter, longer days, you may have some lightly damp socks and will probably want to air these out after you set up camp.

SCARPA swung for immediate flexibility and comfort, and it definitely reduced the break-in period of its traditionally rugged but reluctant hikers. This was not the most stable boot we tested, but it did keep the feet feeling capably secure.

This boot maintains the classic, rugged nature of SCARPA boots of the past, but offers some fresh curb appeal for those looking for a balance of durability and speed.

While the lug pattern isn’t the most aggressive that SCARPA offers, it has a fast profile with enough bite to keep pushing. As modern designs push the envelope toward minimalism, hikers are realizing that just enough is still enough.

We had no issues with traction on our outings, though they may not be ideal for highly technical pursuits. At $199, it’s quite a value compared to SCARPA’s other offerings, and in our opinion is definitely worth a try.

Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX


  • Weight 2 lbs. 11 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard/slightly narrow
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Very supportive for a hiking boot
  • Reliable Vibram outsole holds traction on various surfaces
  • Comfortable for various foot shapes


  • Waterproof liner limits airflow and feels sweaty in warm conditions
  • Burly and heavy, not suited to fast and light hiking
  • Lacing system tends to lose tension
For stability and ultimate protection against jagged rocks, sharp sticks, and deceptively deep puddles, the Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX ($190) is one heck of a go-to.

We’ll be honest; after several weeks of testing, we’re still breaking them into that sweet spot. So, we’d recommend these as a long-term, durable option for someone willing to put in the time. Ultimately, these boots become ideal for some of the gnarliest hikes you can conjure.

To put it bluntly, these are not lightweight boots. At 1 pound, 5.5 ounces per boot — with the protective PU shank — you really feel the boot as you step. The trade-off for extreme durability, in this case, is the weight, but for someone who doesn’t mind a leg workout and might find themselves in thickets and talus fields, these boots are ideal.

Despite the durable, layered build, Vasque mitigates overheating with mesh hits dotting the Nubuck leather upper. Still, with the GORE-TEX liner adding a layer of waterproofing, the Breeze AT Mid GTX does retain heat more than the others we tested.

These are more ideal for cold-weather hikes or variable terrain that leaves your boots scuffed and battered, and we wouldn’t recommend them for casual summer jaunts.

If protection is first on your list when shopping for hiking boots, these merit serious consideration, as they’re some of the most durable, supportive boots we’ve tested.

Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot


  • Weight 3.9 lbs.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Exceptionally sturdy and stable
  • Easy to break in compared to other heavy-duty boots
  • Long-lasting durability


  • Expensive
  • Insulation can sometimes feel inadequate in cold conditions
  • Requires care and maintenance to preserve leather upper
Available in either an uninsulated or insulated (200g) model for $20 more, the Crispi Nevada GTX ($440) is a longstanding favorite in the hunting community. These boots are highly durable, and we’ve even heard stories of decades of heavy use with intact soles and no compromise in waterproofing.

The ankle bone support structure (ABSS) is touted as top-notch by hunters with ankles prone to rolling. Reviewers say this boot is “out-of-the-box comfortable” on repeat, making it a bit of an anomaly in the sturdy, robust category of boots. While these boots are warm and very suitable for cold temperatures, they may not be insulated enough for those whose feet run cold.

The Nevada series does have some flex, making it a great all-around boot for hiking, backpacking, and hitting the trail with a load of meat in your pack. The price of the Nevada GTX can easily be justified — once it’s yours, it’s yours for a long dang time, especially if you live somewhere with a local resole shop.

For the price of two midlevel hunting boots, this boot is quite the investment. But, for anyone familiar with how investments work, you’ll save cash in the long run with a boot that will probably outlive your pet.

Additionally, this boot does require leather maintenance, so it’s more suitable for individuals who don’t mind pulling them out for a wax every now and again. Read our contributor’s full review of the Crispi Nevada GTX.

La Sportiva Nucleo High 2 GTX Hiking Boots


  • Weight 1 lb. 6 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Breathability from underfoot
  • Superb braking lugs
  • Lightweight


  • Not ideal for narrow feet
A more traditional backpacking boot, the high-cut Nucleo High 2 GTX ($239) is big news for La Sportiva because it’s the first hiking boot the brand has made for wider feet. The leather boot was protective in the way that only a leather boot can be. It is also waterproof, thanks to a GORE-TEX liner.

Despite the extensive waterproofing, the breathability of the Nucleo High II GTX is enhanced by microvents under mesh from the arch of the foot to the ankle along the line of the sole — GORE’s Surround system — which made these more breathable than we would have expected. A Vibram rubber rand and toecap deflected scuffs and rocks, hinting at long-term durability for a very reasonable price point.

The Vibram sole had steady grip climbing, braking traction on descents, and a slightly rockered shape that made it easier to heel into a step and toe out of it. For a more traditional-looking boot, these have a modern feel akin to the HOKA and Altra options mentioned earlier.

Well-padded fabric at the Achilles gave us plenty of pressure-free, range-of-ankle movement on steep descents. On rocky trails, a polypropylene stiffener in the midsole protected our feet from bruising, an essential feature considering the natural footfall these promote.

If you truly have wide feet, the Nucleo High II GTX will likely be too narrow, which is quite common in the footwear industry. While this one is wide for La Sportiva — and it welcomes more hikers than ever to wear the company’s classic European hiking boots — they’re more of a wide medium cut, limiting toe splay for those with a wide forefoot.

If you’re lamenting the change of last because you have narrow feet and have always loved how La Sportiva fits, don’t stress. The brand still offers the Nucleo High in a “normal fit” too.

Teva Grandview GORE-TEX Mid


  • Weight 1 lb. 11 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard or wide
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Stylish
  • Out-of-box comfort
  • Roomy toebox


  • High arches may not fit all foot shapes
  • Not ideal for narrow feet
Looking for a hiking boot that easily transitions from mountaintop to coffee shop? Then it’s time you met the Teva Grandview GORE-TEX ($175). This pick offers modern retro styling in a boot that performs impressively well on the trail.

These boots proved comfortable from the very first wear. The wider toebox gave us plenty of room for toes to wiggle and splay out naturally. One narrow-footed tester found them too roomy, so keep that in mind if your feet are on the narrow side.

We had adequate traction even on wet rocks during a stream crossing, and the GORE-TEX liner kept our feet dry through it all. Due to their lightweight structure and layering, we didn’t have a problem with our feet overheating or sweating, even on warmer spring hikes.

Most waterproof boots swelter in the heat of the summer, but if you’ll be crossing streams or hiking through mud, we’d recommend giving these a try, even in the heat.

The Heel Lock strap provided subtle yet helpful foot support. Teva claims it helps lock your foot in place and decreases toe pressure on descents, and we found that is the case on long downhill sections of trail.

The Grandview GORE-TEX may not have enough support or traction for technical rocky terrain or extended backpacking trips, but for day hikes and around-town jaunts, it’s a strong contender.

Asolo TPS 520 GV EVO


  • Weight 1 lb. 10 oz. (per shoe)
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Leather
  • Width Standard (break-in period makes them feel a bit narrow at first)
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Super durable
  • Laces rarely need to be replaced


  • Slow break-in process
  • Some users report delamination of the outsole
The Asolo TPS 52 GV EVO ($360) boots have lasted one of our testers for nearly 10 years. She’s taken them on numerous backpacking trips throughout the West, including the Tetons, Wind Rivers, Glacier, and Sawtooths. They’ve proven comfortable, durable, and supportive throughout.

This is a stiffer boot and requires a break-in period. But once broken in, the Asolo TPS 520 feels like an extension of your body, ready for whatever conditions might lie ahead.

The deeply channeled outsoles provide excellent traction and reduce the buildup of debris, and the padded ankle collar is comfortable and useful for keeping rocks out. With a classic mountaineering look, these boots are surprisingly versatile.

We’ve read some complaints of the sole coming off, but have never experienced this ourselves. In doing some research, it seems that most complaints of sole failure are from boots that are 10-plus years old, and any boot that’s left out in the sun or in high-temperature storage is susceptible to weakening.

It’s worth noting that these boots can be resoled, which generally costs around $100, and can make them a boot for life, as has happened with our tester.

Salomon Cross Hike 2 Mid GORE-TEX


  • Weight 1 lb. 13.2 oz.
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Synthetic
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Super aggressive lug pattern offers stellar traction
  • Grippy Contagrip rubber boosts adhesion to rocky surfaces


  • A little difficult to fine-tune fit because of lace system
  • Large lugs make walking on road or concrete a little clunky
These aggressive, sleek boots feel — and kind of look — like you’ve got a couple of ATVs on your feet. Bombing down muddy trails in the rain? Navigating slippery scree climbs in the alpine? These would be great picks.

Of the shoes we tested, the Salomon Cross Hike 2 Mids ($190) gave us some of the greatest confidence over loose, sloppy terrain with their mega-deep, Y-shaped lugs and Mud Contagrip outsole. The sharp lugs are deeper around the heels, and extend up the toe box, offering solid traction on steep downhills, and boosted grip on uphill slogs.

The lugs are also crafted from a compound that maximizes adhesion. Our tester found these to be some of the better performers over rocky terrain, both dry and wet, and felt surprisingly comfortable on some mandatory Class 4 scrambling during a recent climbing trip.

The Quicklace system is fast and efficient, but we did find it a bit harder to get a fine-tuned fit around the ankle with how thin the laces are, compared to regular laces. This is a small price to pay for the simplicity of throwing these on and off with more ease than most on this list. These consequently became our go-to boots for technical climbing approaches where you change between boots and climbing shoes frequently.

In short, the agile but supportive Cross Hike 2 Mids offer stellar traction that won’t wear you out. They fit comfortably right out of the box, and give you waterproof protection on fast and light missions in the mountains.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid


  • Weight 2 lbs. 7 oz. (pair)
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper material Nubuck Leather/CORDURA
  • Width Standard
The Best Hiking Boots of 2023


  • Supportive
  • Rugged and durable
  • Waterproof but breathable


  • Stiff – Not ideal for slick rock
  • A bit bulky
These boots from Lowa have been a staple for over a decade. While they’ve undergone minor changes over the years, they’re a perfect example of a tried-and-true classic. The Renegade GTX Mid ($255) is ideal for hikers who prefer support and durability.

At 2 pounds 7 ounces per pair, these boots are surprisingly light for how well-built they feel. The Nubuck leather and Cordura upper provide a confidence-inspiring barrier when moving through brush. And a burly Vibram Evo outsole has thick lugs in an asymmetrical pattern that provides exceptional grip over steep, loose ground.

While not considered wide, the platform was adequate even for moderately wide feet, so those with very narrow feet may find them a bit too roomy. The derby cut lacing style does allow for quite a bit of customization, so we can imagine these boots breaking in to provide comfort and support for a wide variety of foot volumes.

For the modern, ultralight crowd, the Renegade will probably feel too bulky. We wouldn’t recommend them for thru-hiking, but for off-trail rambling, hunting, remote fishing ventures, or any activity that could require some bushwhacking, these fit the bill. They’re also not ideal for traversing or scrambling over certain types of rock, as the lack of flexibility in the sole prevents the feet from flexing to provide grip.

Overall, the Renegade GTX Mid pairs classic looks with modern, technical materials to create a do-it-all boot that should hold up to years of heavy use.

Hiking Boot Comparison Chart

Hiking Boot Price Weight Waterproof Upper Material Width
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX $175 1 lb., 14.4 oz.  Yes Polyurethane-coated leather/textile Standard
Merrell Moab 3 $145 2 lbs., 0.7 oz. Yes Pigskin leather/mesh Standard or wide
SCARPA Rush Mid GTX $199 1 lb., 8 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard to narrow
Salomon Quest 4 $230 2 lbs., 11.2 oz. Yes Leather and synthetic Standard
La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX $279 2 lbs., 11.7 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
KEEN Targhee III  $175 2 lbs., 2.8 oz. Yes Leather Standard or wide
North Face VECTIV Exploris
$169 1 lb., 11.3 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2 $190 1 lb., 9.6 oz. No, but are water-resistant Synthetic Wide, extra wide in the toebox
HOKA Speedgoat 5 Mid $180 1 lb., 8.8 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
Salewa Pedroc Pro Mid PTX Boots $200 1 lb., 11 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX $199 1 lb., 0.2 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX $190 2 lbs., 11 oz. Yes Leather Standard/slightly narrow
Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot $440 3 lbs., 14.4 oz. Yes Leather Standard
La Sportiva Nucleo High 2 GTX $239 1 lb., 6 oz. Yes Leather Standard
Teva Grandview GORE-TEX $175 1 lb., 11 oz. Yes Leather Standard or wide
Asolo TPS 52 GV EVO $360 1 lb., 10 oz. (per shoe) Yes Leather Standard
Salomon Cross Hike 2 Mid GTX $190 1 lb., 13.2 oz. Yes Synthetic Standard
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid $255 2 lbs., 7 oz.  Yes Nubuck Leather/CORDURA Standard
Backpacking in hiking boots
The best hiking boots are the ones that suit your personal needs; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

The GearJunkie team has tested hundreds of pairs of hiking boots. We’ve hiked along gradual city park paths and backpacked through rugged alpine terrain on our search for the best hiking footwear on the market. The recommended boots on this list are the result of our thorough and never-ending field testing.

Chris Carter, one of the authors of this guide, has thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in America: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. He knows the importance of properly fitting, comfortable boots for long backpacking trips, and is extremely particular about the footwear he depends on in the wild.

When we assess a boot for its durability, we wear it regularly and keep a close eye on long-term performance. When we test a boot for support and stability, we trudge through rough terrain and pay extra attention to ground feel and roll resistance. Our waterproofing testing involves exposure to puddles, precipitation, and other elements that you’re likely to encounter on the trail.

Our recommendations are not fixed in time. As new hiking boots hit the market, we’ll be waiting to put them to the test. If they’re exceptional, we’ll be sure to add them to this list of the best hiking boots on the market.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Pair of Hiking Boots

Choosing the optimal hiking boot is an ever-complicated and personal endeavor. We all have unique foot shapes and needs on the trail, so research and testing are often critical in finding boots with that perfect blend of fit and function.

Boots built for durability and stability tend to be less forgiving than most footwear. And because you’re often wearing them for hours on end, they require a more precise fit. Here are a few things that can help you find the best boot for your foot.

Hiking Boot Components: Uppers, Midsoles, and Outsoles


Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots
The Solomon Quest Q4 hiking boots are great for rugged hiking and backpacking; (photo/Eric Phillips)

A hiking boot’s upper is the outer material on the top and sides of the boot. There are a handful of materials commonly used in hiking boot uppers, but generally, uppers are either leather or synthetic.

Leather uppers are more traditional-looking, and they tend to be highly durable and abrasion-resistant. However, they sometimes require long-term care to prevent cracking and unsightly aging. A perfect example would be the burly, age-defying Crispi Nevada GTX.

Synthetic uppers tend to be lighter than leather. They also tend to dry faster and generally cost less. An example of a synthetic upper would be The North Face VECTIV Exploris Mid FUTURELIGHT.

Typically, synthetic uppers are not as durable as leather, but modern advances seem to be closing the gap. For those who prefer not to use animal products, synthetic uppers are obviously the way to go.


A midsole provides underfoot cushioning and adds structural stability to the entire boot. Stiff boots likely come with a thick and stiff midsole, and most often require a break-in period.

Stiffer midsoles provide the most durability, but because they have less give, can also be harder on the feet. Stiff midsoles are ideal for providing traction on highly technical terrain where foot movement isn’t ideal, such as mountaineering, ice climbing, and movement over variable terrain like talus fields.

Soft and flexible hiking shoes are built with thinner, more pliable midsoles. Stiff boots can prevent your feet from becoming tired and sore, but flexible boots may be more comfortable and nimble for fast and light hiking, and they tend to prevent blisters.

Modern hikers engaging in long-distance pursuits are finding that softer midsoles provide the balance of technical performance and comfort they need for extended use, turning to boots like the Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid for their long-distance endeavors.

Midsoles are generally made from EVA or polyurethane. EVA is lightweight and soft, while polyurethane is firmer and more durable. If you plan to hike long distances with a heavy pack, either is a viable option, but it really depends on your personal needs.

If you have weaker arches and require support, stiffer midsoles can prevent unnecessary soreness over long distances. If you’re already used to more minimal, flexible footwear, softer midsoles allow the muscles in your feet to function more as nature intended. PCT hikers, for example, are trending toward softer midsoles that limit blistering and strengthen the feet over time.


Hiking boot uppers
If you plan to hike on variable surfaces, be sure to purchase hiking boots with grippy outsoles; (photo/Eric Phillips)

The outsoles of hiking boots are made of rubber with varying grades of stiffness and grip. Harder outsoles on stiff boots sometimes include additives such as carbon to reduce weight. While extra-stiff outsoles are durable and good for carrying heavy loads, they can feel slick when hiking off-trail.

Stiff outsoles are ideal for scrambling on steep rock or other situations where traction is integral to safety. Softer outsoles are ideal for packed, heavily trafficked trails where technical terrain is less frequent. A boot that bridges this gap quite well is the La Sportiva Nucleo High 2 GTX.

All outsoles include a lug pattern designed to increase traction and grip. Widely spaced lugs are less likely to accumulate mud, while shallow lugs are better for hiking over rocky surfaces.

Some lug patterns are symmetrical, while others have a degree of asymmetry that’s primarily integrated to reflect the natural contours of the feet through the footfall. Both have varying degrees of stiffness, so choosing the right lug pattern tends to be a personal preference.

Some outsoles include a heel brake, which can reduce your chances of sliding while descending steep slopes. Most modern hiking boots integrate a heel brake to some degree, as do most running/hiking hybrid shoes.

Take this into consideration if your backcountry travels are going to take you up and over high-altitude passes or on trails that are particularly steep.


A pair of hiking boots can weigh anywhere from 1.5 pounds to well over 4 pounds. The weight of your boots will depend on their structure and materials.

Generally, more robust boots with leather uppers and stiff soles will be heavier (such as the Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX), while hybrid synthetic models will be lighter (such as the Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid).

There is always a give and take with weight. So, heavier boots often prove to have higher degrees of waterproofness and long-term durability, though they may not be the most comfortable options.

Synthetic boots with flexible soles will be lighter and perform more like running shoes. Carrying heavy boots on your feet on long hikes can cause fatigue, but heavy boots also tend to offer more support. As we’ve previously stated, it’s important to know your personal needs and shop accordingly.

In the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see people hiking in rugged lugged sandals. Most often, however, it’s not their first rodeo, and they’ve long developed the foot strength to strip weight and transfer more work to the muscles of the feet.

Support & Stability

Hiking boots support and stability
Stable and supportive hiking boots are important — especially on rocky terrain; (photo/Eric Phillips)

If you’re hiking with a heavy load, you’ll most often want some stable and supportive hiking boots. A stiff outsole and midsole in a boot like the La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX add support underfoot. And a nice firm ankle collar supports the ankle joint when missteps over loose ground are a possibility.

Heavier boots tend to have rigid ankle support, whereas lighter hybrid options tend to have more of a sock-like fit around the ankle. Our ankles are intended to have a certain degree of flex, and some have more stable ankles than others. This is another important factor to consider when choosing the best boot for your feet.

Arch support is another key factor to consider, and also depends on your personal preference and foot shape. Some people have higher, active arches and can use shoes without arch support (like the Altra Lone Peak) over long distances without issue.

Most manufacturers limit the amount of arch support they include in the footbed to accommodate a variety of foot shapes out of the box. If you know you need arch support but don’t necessarily need orthotics, more traditional, rigid boots like the Lowa Renegade tend to offer more built-in support underfoot.


Different lug patterns are designed for different kinds of terrain. Although some boot companies make their own outsoles, Vibram soles are still the standard for high-quality outsoles and maximum traction. Vibram makes a wide variety of soles, from extremely stiff soles for mountaineering and scrambling to more flexible soles for running and hiking on packed trails.

Some boots include a smooth section of rubber under the toes for smearing on slabs of rock. Other boots have deep lugs built for soft or muddy trails. Most lug patterns work for a variety of terrain, but if you will be hiking in extreme conditions, look for something more aggressive with larger or pointier lugs.

On steep and loose terrain, a heel brake is a handy feature. This is the defined spot on the heel that helps prevent slippage when walking downhill.

The HOKA TenNine running shoe takes a heel brake to the next level, but most hiking boots are much more subtle. These days, anything intended for heavy use on- and off-trail will have some sort of heel brake, but they’re integrated to varying degrees.


Waterproof Danner Jag Hiking Boot In A Stream
Dry feet = enjoyable hiking; (photo/Eric Phillips)

If you’ll be wearing your boots when it’s rainy, snowy, or cold, get a waterproof and breathable pair. They’ll keep moisture out, which will keep your feet comfortable regardless of how many miles you’re ticking off.

The trade-off between impermeability and breathability is evident in heavier boots, so consider something lighter weight if your feet will be getting wet but not soaked. Generally, the more waterproof a boot is the heavier and less breathable it will be.

There are a few exceptions, however, and modern advances in venting seem to be improving this age-old dilemma, hence our rave reviews of the SCARPA Rush Mid GTX.

If you’re hiking primarily or exclusively in hot, dry conditions, don’t get a waterproof boot. A membrane-free boot will keep your feet cool and dry, and the release of moisture can help prevent blisters. If you live in the high desert surrounded by mountains, you’ll probably need a summer boot and a shoulder season boot for when moisture adds more variability to the trails.


As mentioned above, breathability and waterproofness are tied together, for better or worse. The more waterproof a boot is the less breathable it will be, and vice versa. If you’re hiking in hot, humid environments where you don’t expect to encounter water, a lightweight, ultra-breathable boot is ideal (the regular version of the Altra Lone Peak All-Weather, for instance).

When the feet don’t air out, you enhance the risk of blisters, callouses, and more serious injuries like trench foot (way more common in older, less advanced boots). Breathability not only means that air can move through and out of the shoe, but it lets water vapor escape. Dry feet stay warmer in colder temperatures as well.

All modern manufacturers take this into account when designing the best hiking boots, so some element of breathability will be built in. Still, it’s an important consideration for your unique feet (sweaty vs. dry), as swampy/cold feet can truly make or break an outing.

Staff writer Austin in bright blue arc'teryx pants hiking in the Salomon quest 04 mid hiking boot
A boot’s breathability can greatly impact hiking comfort, particularly in hot environments; (photo/Mary Murphy)


Not all hiking boot insoles will be a good fit for every foot. Depending on the shape of your foot, you may need to purchase insoles separately. If you have a high arch, look for insoles that cater to this trait specifically.

Other insoles promote a flatter, more natural footfall, while others can increase the amount of heel-to-toe drop. If your insoles are wearing out faster in a specific spot, it’s a good sign that you should explore a different option.

Crampon Compatibility

If you plan to do some major winter hiking or mountaineering, you’ll need boots that work well with crampons. These traction devices are critical for extreme conditions, and they provide traction when crossing steep snow or ice. In general, heavier, stiffer boots are more compatible with crampons.

The La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX Boot is a perfect example of a lighter-weight crampon-compatible boot. Micro-spikes are becoming increasingly popular for thru-hikers who prefer to carry less weight while ultralight backpacking, and they tend to work well over more flexible, lighter boots like the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX.


What are the most comfortable hiking boots?

The most comfortable hiking boots are ones that feel good when you put them on before your hike — and that still feel good when you take them off at the end of your hike.

A very soft boot might feel great to slide into at home, but it might not have enough support or protection to leave you feeling great after a long day on the trail.

What are the best lightweight hiking boots?

The best lightweight hiking boots are the ones that fit your foot. Check out Altra’s Lone Peak All-Weather Mid. We loved them for their feather weight, superb support, and their roomy toebox. If you don’t need a waterproof boot, choose one without a membrane.

Hiking boots vs. hiking shoes: Which do I need?

Whether you hike in shoes or boots is a personal preference. Hiking boots give more ankle support, so if you’re carrying a heavy load backpacking, they’re a great choice. But many thru-hikers wear hiking shoes for big adventures, like the Appalachian Trail.

Structure underfoot matters as much as how high the boot is. Choose a boot or shoe that feels good to wear and gives you confidence when you’re hiking.

Should I get waterproof hiking boots?

If you plan to regularly hike in wet and cold environments, it may be wise to get waterproof hiking boots. You may not plan on getting wet, but it’s always a possibility in the outdoors. Waterproof boots make sure you’re prepared for anything. Depending on the weather and season, you may want a pair of winter hiking boots.

That said, waterproof boots tend to be hotter and less breathable. So, if you plan to hike in warm and dry conditions such as the desert, waterproof boots are not the best choice.

The post The Best Hiking Boots of 2023 appeared first on GearJunkie.

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