1. Adidas, 2. Arc’teryx, 3. Salomon, 4. HOKA, 5. Columbia, 6. Merrell, 7. La Sportiva, 8. Danner, 9. Altra Running, 10. KEEN, 11. Scarpa, 12. Vasque, 13. Asolo, 14. LOWA, 15. Oboz. Embarking on outdoor adventures requires the perfect pair of hiking shoes, and choosing from the best brands is paramount. This article presents a curated selection of the best hiking shoe brands renowned for their comfort, durability, and exceptional traction, ensuring an optimal experience on every trail.
- La Sportiva
- Altra Running
Adidas, the second-largest sportswear brand globally, has made a significant impact in the outdoor market with its hiking-focused Terrex collection. Unlike traditional leather hikers, Adidas Terrex shoes showcase eye-catching uppers and a modern, sneaker-like style. However, aesthetics are just one aspect of these shoes’ appeal, as their overall performance stands up to the competition while maintaining competitive weight.
One notable example is the Terrex Swift R3 GTX, which provides hiking boot-level protection, stability, and durability while weighing in at a competitive 1 pound 11.9 ounces for the men’s version. Alongside the Swift R3, Adidas offers other impressive options like the mid-height Terrex Free Hiker 2 GTX boots and the low-top Terrex AX4 hiking shoes. On the other hand, the AX4, available at an affordable price of $100 for the non-waterproof version, offers surprising comfort and reliable traction.
Therefore, traditionalists and backpackers carrying heavy loads might prefer alternative options. Nevertheless, for fast-and-light adventures on established trails, Adidas presents several promising choices within its Terrex collection.
Headquarters: Herzogenaurach, Germany
Screenshot via https://www.adidas.com/us/hiking-shoes
Arc’teryx is a relatively new brand in the hiking shoe industry, but they have quickly gained a reputation for their premium designs. Known for their well-made and highly capable gear, Arc’teryx brings their expertise from Canada’s rugged Coast Mountains to their footwear.
One standout model is the Aerios FL, which impresses with its lightweight construction at just 1 pound 8 ounces per pair (for the low version). It also features a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane and provides excellent protection on rocky trails and off-trail scrambling. However, the mid-height version’s basic webbing-based lacing system may pose challenges in achieving a consistent and secure fit, unlike competitors’ eyelets and locking hooks.
Despite being a new player in the market, Arc’teryx offers a diverse lineup, including the backpacking-ready Acrux, the Norvan trail running collection, and the Konseal approach shoes. While their products tend to be pricier compared to other brands, Arc’teryx continues to impress with their exceptional performance and promises further growth in the future.
Headquarters: North Vancouver, Canada
Screenshot via https://www.arcteryx.com/ca/en/c/womens/footwear
Salomon, a leading French brand, has been at the forefront of footwear innovation for years. Their current lineup showcases exceptional design and versatility. The X Ultra series, in particular, has consistently ranked as a top choice in hiking shoe and boot round-ups due to its impressive all-around performance in a lightweight and agile package. The test of the latest X Ultra 4 models, including both men’s and women’s low-tops and mid-height boots, confirmed the winning recipe’s effectiveness. The X Ultra line strikes a near-perfect balance of weight, comfort, and on-trail capabilities.
However, Salomon’s footwear selection goes beyond the X Ultra, catering to a wide range of needs. From running-inspired designs like the Outpulse to robust backpacking-ready options like the Quest 4 GTX, their collection is comprehensive. Many Salomon shoes feature the convenient QuickLace system, allowing for easy and even tightening with a single pull. While traditional lacing offers greater customization, hikers appreciate the QuickLace’s convenience and minimal material. It’s important to note that Salomon specializes in running shoes and lacks heavyweight leather boots. Nonetheless, their collection is well-made and extensive, ensuring that hikers can find suitable footwear for their adventures.
Headquarters: Annecy, France
Screenshot via https://www.salomon.com/en-us/shop/sports/hiking/shoes.html
HOKA, a renowned brand in the running shoe industry, has gained a reputation for producing comfortable and highly cushioned footwear suitable for both trail and road running. Although they are relatively new to the hiking scene, HOKA has successfully applied its expertise to create ankle-height designs that excel on moderate trails, allowing hikers to move swiftly and comfortably.
The Anacapa Mid, one of HOKA’s offerings, impressed us with its smooth and well-cushioned ride, lightweight construction, secure fit, and high-quality materials. Additionally, their popular Speedgoat shoe, which is featured among the top trail running shoes, is also available in a mid-height version, providing ankle protection for fast-paced hikers.
However, it’s important to note that HOKA shoes lack the necessary support, stiffness, and durability required for tackling challenging terrains with a heavy backpack. While the springy midsoles offer comfort over long distances, the increased stack height compromises the overall trail feel.
Headquarters: Goleta, California
Screenshot via https://www.hoka.com/en/us/
Columbia is a well-regarded hiking shoe brand that caters to outdoor enthusiasts on a budget. One of their best-selling models, the Newton Ridge, is a popular choice among casual hikers. Priced at $100 for the waterproof version, it offers a seam-sealed leather upper for durability and comfort, along with a padded collar and tongue.
For colder weather, Columbia offers the Fairbanks model at $130. This shoe boasts Omni-Tech waterproofing, an Omni-Heat liner, and 200-gram insulation, providing warmth and protection against the elements. It’s worth noting that many Columbia designs can often be found at discounted prices, making them even more affordable.
Although Columbia falls short in terms of trail performance compared to brands like KEEN and Merrell, which cost slightly more, the Newton Ridge remains a popular choice for beginners. However, if you’re looking for improved long-distance comfort, support, and durability, the KEEN Targhee or Merrell Moab might be a better fit for light backpacking and rugged trails.
Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
Screenshot via https://www.columbia.com/c/hiking-boots-shoes/
Ultimate Survival Gear
Merrell, a hiking shoe brand founded in 1981 by two former Rossignol ski executives, has established itself as one of the best hiking shoe brands in the hiking industry. Known for their quality and reliability, Merrell has become synonymous with hiking over the years. Their flagship model, the Moab 3, is a popular choice among hikers and backpackers, offering a comfortable fit, and lightweight feel.
Merrell’s Moab collection is highly versatile, with a wide range of styles and color options to choose from. Many outdoor enthusiasts consider the Moab their go-to hiking shoe, making it a common sight on trails worldwide. Another notable series from Merrell is the MQM, which is favored for fast-and-light missions due to its lightweight construction.
In addition to hiking footwear, Merrell offers a diverse selection of outdoor-ready sandals and work boots. Their Hydro Moc water shoes, in particular, are popular among hikers who frequently encounter water crossings during their adventures.
While Merrell may not be as cutting-edge as some other brands in terms of innovation, they have built a loyal following among day hikers and casual backpackers. Their focus on comfort, reasonable pricing, and a wide range of options has contributed to their enduring popularity in the hiking community.
Headquarters: Rockford, Michigan
Screenshot via https://www.merrell.com/US/en/hiking-shoes-boots-apparel/
La Sportiva, the renowned Italian brand, has gained a reputation as a premier climbing and mountaineering company, known for their exceptional performance and durable designs. La Sportiva has successfully extended its expertise to the realm of casual hiking and backpacking.
A standout within La Sportiva’s collection is the TX4, technically categorized as an approach shoe. The TX4 impresses with its outstanding grip and scrambling capabilities while remaining comfortable and flexible enough for long days on the trail. The rest of the TX series, including the lightweight TX2 Evo and the mid-height TX Hike, is equally impressive.
While many of La Sportiva’s shoes have traditionally been known for their narrow fit, exceptions have been made with models like the TX collection, Spire, and Wildcat. In 2021, the brand even introduced dedicated wide sizes, catering to a broader range of foot shapes.
For backpackers, La Sportiva offers the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX and Nucleo High II GTX boots, which defy expectations with their exceptional performance despite their lightweight design. La Sportiva’s commitment to quality, innovation, and technical expertise has firmly established them as a top choice for hikers, climbers, and mountaineers alike.
Headquarters: Ziano di Fiemme, Italy
Screenshot via https://www.lasportiva.com/en
Danner, one of the best hiking shoe brands based in Portland, initially gained recognition for their sturdy leather models like the Mountain Light, which were originally designed for loggers. Although they remained on the outskirts of the hiking scene for some time, Danner has recently taken steps to modernize their lineup, resulting in pleasant surprises.
Notably, their Trail 2650 and Mountain 600 series successfully blend moderate trail functionality with casual appeal, featuring attractive styling and lightweight constructions. While these boots may not be suitable for demanding, high-mileage backpacking adventures, their timeless aesthetics and everyday versatility make them appealing to casual users.
Screenshot via https://global.danner.com/
Altra Running is a renowned trail running brand that has gained a loyal following among thru-hikers who take on long trails such as the AT and PCT. With a focus on lightweight and flexible trail runners, Altra appeals to hikers who prioritize comfort during extended days on the trail.
The flagship trail runner offered by Altra is the Lone Peak, available in both low-top and mid-height versions. Additionally, Altra offers an all-weather option of the Lone Peak, featuring a waterproof eVent bootie that effectively seals out moisture. One distinctive feature across all variations is Altra’s signature zero-drop shape, now referred to as Balanced Cushioning. Another notable feature found in many Altra models, including the Lone Peak and newer Olympus, is the wide toe box that allows toes to splay out comfortably.
Although Altra’s hiking options are somewhat limited due to their specialization in trail running, the Lone Peak and Olympus models are noteworthy and highly regarded among hikers.
Headquarters: Denver, Colorado
Screenshot via https://www.altrarunning.com/shop/hike-shoes
KEEN, an Oregon-based brand initially focused on sandals, has established itself as a reputable hiking shoe manufacturer. While still offering a significant selection of sandals, their hiking collection is notable for its exceptional quality and versatility. Introduced in 2005, the Targhee has become their signature hiker, favored for its immediate comfort, durability, and ample stability for day hikes and moderate backpacking trips. With a wide range of styles and color options, KEEN caters to various preferences, including low-top variations, classic high-cut boots (available in waterproof and non-waterproof versions), kids’ models, and sandals.
However, this design sacrifices some performance for a more relaxed feel, making KEEN less ideal for fast-and-light hikers who prefer nimble options from trail-running brands. Nonetheless, KEEN remains popular among day hikers and weekend backpackers, offering quality mid-range products that are durable without breaking the bank.
Moreover, KEEN stands out as one of the most environmentally and socially conscious brands. They have successfully eliminated harmful PFCs from most of their supply chain and regularly contribute to communities impacted by natural disasters. With their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, KEEN combines high-quality footwear with a conscientious approach, appealing to mindful adventurers.
Screenshot via https://www.keenfootwear.com/collections/footwear
Scarpa, an Italian brand primarily known for its expertise in climbing, skiing, and mountaineering, has also made a mark in the hiking and trail running markets. While their hiking and trekking designs may be considered overkill for moderate and maintained trails, they have recently introduced lighter-weight and more versatile options like the Maverick, Rush, and Mojito collections.
One standout product from Scarpa is the Zodiac Plus GTX, offering approach shoe-like grip, confidence-inspiring protection, and the toughness and stability of a lightweight mountaineering boot. Weighing in at a reasonable 2 pounds 6.4 ounces, it performed admirably during off-trail scrambling with a heavy pack.
Scarpa’s strong reputation among mountain athletes lies in their distinctive Italian styling and exceptional craftsmanship, making them a go-to brand for adventurers tackling technical routes high in the mountains. While Scarpa may not be the top choice for every hiker, their commitment to quality and performance makes them a brand worth considering for those seeking durable and reliable footwear for challenging mountain pursuits.
Headquarters: Asolo, Italy
Screenshot via https://us.scarpa.com/hiking
JB Mountain Skills
Vasque, a brand founded by William Sweasy in the mid-1960s as part of the Red Wing Shoe Company, has become a prominent name in the world of hiking shoes. Sweasy’s vision was to encourage more Americans to embrace the outdoors, and over the years, Vasque has developed into a well-known footwear brand catering to a range of outdoor activities. Their product lineup includes rugged backpacking boots, as well as casual shoes suitable for both urban and light trail use.
One notable aspect of Vasque is its commitment to sustainability. They have made significant strides in this area by incorporating the Nature-Tex waterproof membrane into many of their recent designs. This membrane is composed of 50% recycled content, highlighting Vasque’s dedication to reducing its environmental impact.
Headquarters: Red Wing, Minnesota
Screenshot via https://www.vasque.com/
Asolo is an Italy-based hiking shoe brand that specializes in technical alpine trekking and mountaineering footwear. While it may be underrated compared to other brands, Asolo’s designs are renowned for their premium quality and expert craftsmanship. Notably, Asolo introduced the first Gore-Tex-lined footwear in the 1980s, setting the industry standard for waterproofing that is still admired today.
In the realm of hiking and backpacking, Asolo offers two standout collections: the Fugitive and Falcon. The Falcon GV collection is characterized by its lightweight, sleek, and modern designs, catering to hikers seeking a contemporary aesthetic. On the other hand, the Fugitive collection has a more classic feel, featuring a stiff construction and thick mid- and outsoles, making it suitable for light mountaineering as well. Additionally, Asolo’s TPS 520 boot is highly regarded, boasting a robust leather build.
While Asolo’s hiking shoes may not cater to entry-level hikers, they are highly regarded for their superior craftsmanship and exceptional quality. Asolo is a brand trusted by outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate the durability and performance of their footwear.
Headquarters: Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy
Screenshot via https://www.asolo.com/en/
LOWA is a hiking shoe brand with a rich history dating back to the early 1920s. Originally handcrafted in a cobbler’s shop in a small village in southeastern Germany, their boots have come a long way. While their facilities have expanded over the years, LOWA’s headquarters remains in the same town to this day.
In the 1930s, they began developing alpine and lace-up ski boots for the mountain infantry, a venture that lasted until the end of World War II. After the war, LOWA transitioned back to consumer products and established itself as a staple in the ski and mountaineering industries. They became pioneers in PU injection molding and introduced various product innovations that set new manufacturing standards.
One of LOWA’s most notable offerings is the Renegade, which was introduced in 1997 and remains a popular midweight boot in the market. With the look and feel of a traditional leather hiker, the Renegade impresses with its lightweight design, weighing just 2 lbs. 7 oz. for the mid-height Gore-Tex model. The Renegade comes in a range of color and sizing options, including narrow, regular, and wide widths, allowing for a customized fit. While LOWA’s expertise primarily lies in technical mountaineering and ice climbing footwear, they also offer a selection of tactical designs and cold-weather boots, including insulated variations of the Renegade.
Headquarters: Jetzendorf, Germany
Screenshot via https://www.lowaboots.com/
LOWA Outdoor Footwear
Oboz, a hiking shoe brand based in Bozeman, Montana, is renowned for producing durable, supportive, and comfortable footwear. One standout feature of Oboz shoes is their proprietary O Fit insole, which offers a custom fit right out of the box. With a medium-height arch and cupped heel, this insole provides exceptional support.
As one of the best hiking shoe brands, Oboz places a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Oboz demonstrates this commitment by planting a tree for each pair of shoes sold and powering their office with renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass.
While some of Oboz’s designs may have a more traditional feel compared to their modern counterparts, the brand has introduced new models that address this concern, for instance, the Katabatic. This shoe resembles Salomon’s Outpulse and has received positive feedback. Oboz also offers casual options suitable for light hiking, such as the Sypes Low and Mid, as well as quality winter-ready designs like the Bridger Insulated.
Although Oboz may not be the ideal choice for thru-hikers or those seeking lightweight footwear, it remains a trusted and respected brand among hikers who prioritize robust support and cushioning.
Headquarters: Bozeman, Montana, U.S
Screenshot via https://obozfootwear.com/en-us/community/sawtooth-x-low-waterproof-review