The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying a heavy pack or traversing rocky trails, but the weight savings and feathery feel are worth it for many. Below are our favorite hiking shoes of 2022, from ultralight options for fast and light trips to more supportive models for carrying a full pack. For more background information, see our hiking shoe comparison table and buying advice below the picks. And if you prefer an over-the-ankle style, see our article on the best hiking boots.

Our Team's Hiking Shoe Picks

Best Overall Hiking Shoe

1. Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX ($150)

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Great mix of lightness, on-trail performance, and durability.
What we don’t: Gore-Tex model runs warm.

The Salomon X Ultra 3 is our top hiking shoe for 2022, combining a feathery feel with impressive on-trail performance. As with each iteration of this popular model, the third edition puts it all together: The shoe is competitively light at 1 pound 10 ounces (for a men’s size 9), the tread design offers impressive grip in just about all conditions, and the stable chassis and cushioned interior are great for long trail days. All told, we highly recommend the X Ultra for day hikes, quick summits, and even lightweight backpacking.

Salomon drew heavily from their trail running expertise with the X Ultra 3’s design. The single-pull laces are fast to use and provide a secure fit, and the shoe is far nimbler than traditional hikers like the Merrell Moab 2 or Keen Targhee below. But you don’t sacrifice protection like with a trail runner—Salomon includes a substantial toe cap and enough cushioning underfoot for hauling a pack. We found the fit runs narrow in the toe box, but the good news is that the low-top GTX version is offered in wide sizes. Tack on the non-waterproof “Aero” model, and the X Ultra 3 stands out as the best all-around hiking shoe line on the market. Finally, it’s worth noting Salomon recently released the X Ultra 4 GTX, which we break down below... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon X Ultra 3  See the Women's Salomon X Ultra 3


Best Budget Hiking Shoe

2. Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator ($110)

Merrell Moab 2 low hiking shoesCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: Very comfortable and a great price.
What we don’t: Not built for technical terrain.

These may not be your long-distance or ultra-rugged hiking shoes, but there is a lot to like about Merrell’s flagship Moab 2. What has made this shoe so popular over the years? Most notably, it's the lightweight but planted feel, comfortable fit, and attractive price point. Merrell updated the Moab a couple of years ago including a more durable upper and greater cushioning in the heel of the footbed, but the formula largely remains the same. For day hikers sticking to established trails, the Moab 2 is a great value.

In terms of downsides, on rocky and muddy trails, we found that traction and stability fall short of a performance shoe like the Salomon X Ultra 3 above. And despite a competitive 1-pound-15-ounce weight for a pair, the shoe feels a little slow and cumbersome compared with some lighter models. But these are small complaints about an otherwise fantastic shoe, and we highly recommend the Moab 2 for day hikes and lightweight backpacking. Keep in mind that we included the non-waterproof “Vent” here, but Merrell also makes a waterproof version that costs $125 and weighs slightly more at 2 pounds 1 ounce per pair. Of note: Merrell is releasing an updated Moab 3 for spring 2022, and we are currently in the process of testing the new model... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Merrell Moab 2  See the Women's Merrell Moab 2


Best Ultralight and Cushioned Hiking Shoe

3. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 ($145)

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 trail runnerCategory: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 5.6 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Plush cushioning makes these shoes extremely comfortable; grippy outsole.
What we don’t: Unfortunately, they wear down quicker than we would like.

Hoka One One used to be a niche brand for runners, but that has changed dramatically over the past few years and the brand is now a go-to options for hikers. This trajectory makes sense: More and more people are ditching their burly boots for hiking shoes and trail runners, and if you stay mostly on established trails and aren’t scrambling or carrying a heavy pack, it’s our preferred way to go. With thick cushioning and a lightweight build, the Hoka Speedgoat 4 is the most comfortable trail shoe we’ve ever worn, the sole is surprisingly grippy, and we have few complaints about on-trail performance. 

What are the shortcomings of the Hoka Speedgoat 4? We have been surprised at how quickly they wear down, and the sole in particular. When standing at our local running store recently, a gentleman in front of us was buying new Hokas and said, “I absolutely love these shoes but am bummed by how quickly they pack out,” which sums up our experiences as well. In addition, while the performance is superb on established trails, we took them scrambling over steep terrain and realized the limitations. As a trail running shoe, the Speedgoat is light on protection around the foot and the stability can waver when really put to the test. But again, if you hike or run mostly on established trails, you simply won’t find a more comfortable shoe for the job. And a final note: Hoka recently released the Speedgoat 5, but with a firmer midsole, more welded overlays on the upper, and the option of a waterproof model, we think the 4 here is still the better choice for most hikers.
See the Men's Hoka One One Speedgoat 4  See the Women's Hoka One One Speedgoat 4


Best Shoe for Backpacking and Technical Trails

4. La Sportiva Spire GTX ($190)

La Sportiva Spire GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Surround)
What we like: A backpacking-ready shoe that is tough, comfortable, and well-made.
What we don’t: Super pricey and a bit heavy.

Many of the designs on our list are lightweight or almost trail runner-like in nature, but La Sportiva’s burly Spire is backpacking-ready—or just about as close as a hiking shoe gets. It feels sturdy and substantial with good stiffness and a thick midsole, effectively isolating you from rough and rocky trails (La Sportiva even goes so far as calling it a low-cut hiking boot). Throw in excellent protection and grip over a variety of terrain, plus a quality build that we’ve come to expect from this Italian climbing brand, and you have one of the more capable hiking shoes on the market.

Why isn’t the La Sportiva Spire ranked higher? At nearly 2 pounds, it’s heavy for a low-top hiking shoe and sits relatively high on the ankle. Second, the $190 price tag makes it the most expensive model on this list, even topping the high-end Arc’teryx Aerios FL below. Finally, we appreciate the accommodating fit that should work well for most foot types, but the shoe is a little wide at the heel and we had to cinch it down tightly to avoid slippage. These issues aside, it’s hard to knock the performance chops or build quality of the La Sportiva, and it offers a nice step up in on-trail performance and durability compared to the TX4 below... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva Spire  See the Women's La Sportiva Spire


Best Hiking Shoe for Off-Trail Scrambling

5. La Sportiva TX4 ($140)

La Sportiva TX4 hiking shoeCategory: Approach shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Approach shoe grip with hiking shoe comfort and weight.
What we don’t: Leather upper limits breathability in hot weather.

The La Sportiva TX4 certainly isn’t a traditional pick, but boy do we love this shoe. It’s built as an approach shoe, which means that it’s grippy and tough for long hikes to climbing objectives or traveling over steep, rocky terrain. The Vibram outsole, full rubber rand, and smooth area of sticky rubber under the toe make it a great option for scrambling, smearing, and edging on rock. But what we have been impressed with most is its versatility: The TX4 does equally well moving fast on the trail with its light and moderately flexible construction. We even like it for everyday use due to the high levels of comfort and attractive design.

As with most approach shoes, the La Sportiva TX4 does have limitations. The dotty tread grips exceptionally well on wet and dry rock and even impressed us with traction on snow, but it will fall short of a true hiking shoe in dirt and mud. Further, some hikers—mostly those of the fast-and-light variety—might find that the stiffer sole feels clunky and inflexible. But overall, don’t be dissuaded by the approach shoe label: The TX4 is a worthy companion for long days on the trail. And keep in mind that La Sportiva does make this shoe in a number of versions, including the mesh TX3 (more breathability) up to the burly TXS (a full-on hiking boot)... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva TX4  See the Women's La Sportiva TX4


Best of the Rest

6. Danner Trail 2650 ($170)

Danner 2650 Trail hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Comfortable, grippy, and looks good for use around town.
What we don’t: Can’t match the X Ultra above in stability.

Danner is best known for its work boots, but the long-time footwear brand has made a nice transition to hikers of late. The Trail 2650 has a lot going for it: It’s comfortable right out of the box, grippy with a Vibram outsole, and impressively light at 1 pound 8 ounces per pair. And this shoe manages do what most hiking shoes don’t: look good in the process. All in all, we’re impressed with the direction that Danner is headed, and the Trail 2650 is one of the more versatile options on this list.

The version of the Trail 2650 included here isn’t waterproof, but Danner also makes a GTX model for $190 and 1 pound 11 ounces per pair, along with a Mid GTX for those who want more ankle support. The only major downsides with this shoe line are a lack of stability when hauling a heavy pack (it falls short of the Salomon X Ultra above in this respect) and the rather massive piece of rubber on the heel that seems to go above and beyond the necessary levels of protection (and adds a bit of weight that won’t help you much on the trail). But those are small complaints about an otherwise comfortable and modern lightweight hiking shoe... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Danner Trail 2650  See the Women's Danner Trail 2650


7. Altra Lone Peak 6 ($140)

Altra Lone Peak 6 hiking shoeCategory: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 5.2 oz. 
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: It’s a thru-hiker favorite thanks to its light feel, cushioning, and wide toe box.
What we don’t: Roomy fit and flexible design aren’t ideal for difficult terrain.

Like the Speedgoat above, Altra’s Lone Peak was designed first as a running shoe and has since become a thru-hiker favorite thanks to its minimalist yet comfortable build. In place of the stiff midsole and reinforced heel common among many traditional designs, the Lone Peak uses thick cushioning to isolate your foot from uneven terrain, resulting in a shoe that’s both lightweight (just 1 lb. 5.2 oz. for a pair) and protective. It’s also extremely comfortable with Altra’s trademark zero-drop design and extra-wide toe box—in fact, this is the shoe we recommend most for hikers that regularly suffer from hot spots and blisters.

Among thru-hikers, the Lone Peak’s biggest competitor is the Speedgoat above. With the Lone Peak, you get trail-ready features like an integrated stone guard, built-in drainage ports, and gaiter trap. The Altra’s shorter stack height also puts you closer to the trail, which increases stability for many hikers (the Hoka can feel a little tippy and harder to trust on rocky terrain). But the Lone Peak’s wide fit is polarizing—hikers with narrow feet are usually much happier with the Speedgoat—and we've had durability issues with various iterations of the Lone Peak (the rubber toe cap has a tendency to peel away from the upper). In the end, both are great options for those traveling fast and light, and a final decision will likely come down to preferences on fit and cushioning.
See the Men's Altra Lone Peak 6  See the Women's Altra Lone Peak 6


8. Scarpa Rush Low GTX ($169)

Scarpa Rush Low GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Trail runner-like agility with a boost in protection and stability.
What we don’t: Low collar lacks ankle support; too heavy for long stretches of running.

The hiking-shoe-meets-trail-runner love story has been unfolding for a number of years, but only recently did Scarpa throw their hat in the ring with the Rush series. Released last year, the Rush Low GTX is a nimble hiking shoe that gives top-ranked models like the Salomon X Ultra 3 a run for their money in terms of on-trail performance. You get a durable fabric upper with welded reinforcements, burly midsole with EVA foam and TPU reinforcements for cushion and stability (we’ve found it to be more cushioned than the Salomon, especially in the forefoot), and a sticky outsole with a rockered profile that facilitates quick movements. All told, if you’re considering a trail runner but are wary of giving up the support and durability of a hiking shoe, the Rush Low GTX (also offered in non-waterproof and mid-height versions) is well worth a look.

We wore the Scarpa Rush while trekking in southern Patagonia and were impressed with its prowess on everything from hardpacked trail to talus and smooth rock. But as with all hybrid designs, it’s not perfect for either end of the spectrum. First off, the Rush offers minimal ankle support with a fairly low collar, which isn’t great news if you’re schlepping a heavy overnight pack. Second, we found it to be too heavy and stiff for sustained running, although it does feel lighter than its 1-pound-12.2-ounce weight would suggest (the plush cushioning helps). And finally, it’s pricey at $189 (a $20 bump for 2022). But for speed-focused hikers and fastpackers, it’s hard to knock the purpose-built design, which offers a boost in support and durability compared to standard trail runners like the Speedgoat and Lone Peak above... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Scarpa Rush Low GTX  See the Women's Scarpa Rush Low GTX


9. Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX ($150)

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoesCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 11.5 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: A near-ideal balance of weight and on-trail performance.
What we don’t: Taller ankle height can lead to rubbing and discomfort.

Released last spring, Salomon’s X Ultra 4 is the replacement for our top-rated X Ultra 3 above. What’s changed? Beyond its sleeker and more modern look, Salomon revised the lacing system and chassis, and the fit is a bit wider in the toe box. Importantly, they’ve retained the X Ultra’s fantastic mix of a running shoe-like nimble feel with true trail chops for everything from day hikes to extended backpacking trips. It balances support with flexibility extremely well, is plenty beefed-up for rough conditions, and there’s enough cushioning underfoot for full days with a loaded pack. And at 1 pound 9 ounces for our men’s size 9, the X Ultra 4 matches its predecessor in weight.

Why hasn’t the latest X Ultra taken our top spot? While we didn’t have any comfort-related issues throughout our test of the shoe, the raised collar around the front of the ankle can be a source of rubbing and discomfort for some users. In comparing the X Ultra 3 and 4, the difference in height is noticeable, and the sheer number of complaints is enough for us to hesitate in moving the shoe any higher on our list at the moment. That said, if you can try it on before you purchase (or buy from a retailer with a good return policy), the latest X Ultra is undeniably a high-performance, quality option... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX  See the Women's Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX


10. Keen Targhee Low Vent ($155)

Keen Targhee III Low Vent hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 13.6 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: Cushioned and comfortable; above-average build quality.
What we don’t: Pricier than the Merrell Moab above without enough to show for it.

Like Merrell's Moab, the Targhee is Keen's signature everyday hiker. Updated a few years ago, the changes weren't groundbreaking but did a nice job at modernizing the classic design. Most importantly, the super-wide foot bed of the previous model has been trimmed down slightly to give the shoe a slightly less sloppy feel over rocky terrain (it’s still plenty roomy for most folks, though). The Targhee Low Vent still won’t be confused with an aggressive model like the Salomon X Ultra 3 above—in looks as well as performance—but its tough leather construction, reasonable weight, and well-cushioned interior make it a great casual hiking shoe.

Among day hiking options, the Keen Targhee Low and Merrell Moab 2 are two of the most popular on the market. Both are very comfortable right out of the box, offer sufficient support and traction for non-technical trails, and can even do the trick on shorter backpacking trips. The Targhee’s Nubuck leather upper is a little more durable than the Moab’s mesh-heavy build, but the Keen isn’t as good of a value at $155 (the waterproof version is $10 more). That price difference is enough to push it slightly down our list, but the Targhee’s standout comfort make it a consistent favorite.
See the Men's Keen Targhee Low  See the Women's Keen Targhee Low


11. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX ($170)

Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 8.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Light, tough, and extremely well-built.
What we don’t: Pricey and a bit stiffer than some more heavily cushioned models.

Arc’teryx has been experimenting with footwear for years, from the Bora2 hiking boots to the Norvan trail runners. But until fairly recently, the legendary Canadian brand had yet to release a true hiking shoe. Enter the Aerios FL, which is superlight at just over 1.5 pounds for the pair, waterproof with a Gore-Tex membrane, and tough with a burly toe cap and a large swath of TPU around the bottom portion of the shoe. All told, the Aerios likely is lighter than your day hiker, more protective than your trail runner, and more comfortable than your approach shoe. For these reasons, it’s our favorite pair of Arc’teryx hiking footwear to date.

In terms of performance, we took the Aerios FL on the multi-day Escalante Route through the Grand Canyon, which included off-trail scrambling with a loaded pack. The shoe felt a bit stiff at first—particularly under the heel—but it broke in nicely and ended up being comfortable during long days on the trail. It also was light on ankle support in a couple of spots, but still did a great job covering ground over a variety of tough terrain. Overall, we came away impressed: The Aerios is an excellent lightweight shoe for day hiking and likely will be a favorite among the minimalist backpacking crowd. For more ankle support, Arc’teryx also makes an Aerios Mid (1 lb. 10 oz. and $185)... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Aerios FL  See the Women's Arc'teryx Aerios FL


12. Salomon Cross Hike GTX ($160)

Salomon Cross Hike GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 11.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: A sprightly hiking shoe with impressive grip on soft terrain.
What we don’t: Less durable than the X Ultra and subpar traction on wet rock.

If you haven’t yet noticed a trend in our picks, the Salomon Cross Hike should make things abundantly clear that trail-runner-inspired hiking shoes have all but taken over. And the Cross Hike is about as purpose-built as it gets: Salomon took their Speedcross running shoe (a popular choice for mountain terrain), beefed up the protection and support, and lowered the stack height for greater stability. The result is a shoe that’s light and speedy on the trail but robust enough to tackle everything from third-class scrambling to hauling an overnight load.

The relatively new Cross Hike joins the X Ultra (and plenty of others) in Salomon’s lineup and slots in as a slightly lighter and nimbler option for those who love to move fast. That said, we found it to be less stable—not great news for new hikers or if you’re carrying a lot of weight—and a step down in all-out durability (the upper started to delaminate after some rough use). Finally, while the Cross Hike’s sharp lugs bite nicely into soft terrain, traction does suffer on smooth, slippery surfaces like wet rocks. In the end, the Cross Hike is a step up in overall performance from a trail runner like the Speedgoat above and a better match for moving quickly on technical trails, but we’ll stick with the $10-cheaper X Ultra 3 as a better all-rounder for most hiking and backpacking.
See the Men's Salomon Cross Hike  See the Women's Salomon Cross Hike


13. Brooks Cascadia 16 ($130)

Brooks Cascadia 16 trail running shoeCategory: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Latest model is competitively light yet stable and well-cushioned.
What we don’t: Lightened-up build hasn’t proven itself in long-term durability.

Brooks’ Cascadia was one of the first trail runners to really break into the ultralight backpacking and thru-hiking communities. Its mix of weight and comfort were a revelation for those looking to cover serious distances, and the shoe exceeded expectations in terms of durability as well. Now in its 16th generation, the Cascadia remains a fantastic crossover trail running/hiking option: The latest model has a soft, cushioned feel, a rock plate underfoot helps take the sting out of a rough trail, and it’s very competitive in terms of weight at 1 pound 5 ounces for the men’s version (the women’s is 1 lb. 3 oz.). 

How does the Cascadia compare with another darling of the thru-hiking world, Altra’s Lone Peak above? Both offer a nice array of trail-ready features like tacky and aggressive rubber outsoles, drainage ports in the upper, and attachment points for gaiters. One key difference is the Altra’s zero-drop shape compared with the Cascadia’s more traditional 8-millimeter drop (a choice here will come down to personal preference). And while the Cascadia’s toe box is pretty roomy, the Lone Peak has the wide shape that many thru-hikers desire. The flipside is that the Brooks is more stable and would be our pick for technical terrain. In truth, both are quality options, and as we put more miles on the Cascadia, it could easily work its way up our rankings.
See the Men's Brooks Cascadia 16  See the Women's Brooks Cascadia 16


14. Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX ($150)

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 11.9 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Sturdy and durable with great traction.
What we don’t: Stiff and less comfortable for moving fast.

With a light but sturdy and supportive build, Adidas’ Terrex Swift R has consistently been a trail favorite. The 3rd generation brought a more traditional lacing system—which we consider a positive as the quick-lace design on the R2 was finicky—but otherwise, they stuck to the winning formula. Its outsole grips well on everything from mud to rock, and the moderately stiff construction makes it a nice pairing for more technical terrain and when carrying an overnight or multi-day load. Finally, we appreciate the tough and long-lasting materials used throughout: There’s no open mesh in the upper like you’ll find on less durable trail runners, and protection is great around the toes and sides of the feet. For hikers wanting a boot-like feel in a low-top shoe, the Swift R3 is a worthy option.

Some of the Swift’s closest competitors include the La Sportiva Spire and Salomon X Ultra above. All the designs balance weight, cushioning, and trail performance well, although the Salomons (both the X Ultra 3 and 4) are the lightest and nimblest of the bunch. For those that like a little more structure and stiffness, the Adidas and La Sportiva have their appeals, but the tradeoff is a longer break-in period and a somewhat clunky feel when you’re trying to move quickly. We also found the R3 runs a little big, which led to a fair amount of heel slippage on extended climbs (some may need to size down). These complaints push the Swift R3 down our rankings, but if it fits you well, the shoe offers a nice combination of durability, support, and price... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX  See the Women's Terrex Swift R3 GTX


15. The North Face Vectiv Exploris ($159)

The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10.3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Thoroughly modern and packed with trail running-inspired tech.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the rockered shape; unproven over the long term.

A number of The North Face’s hiking models have throwback styling and fairly heavy constructions, but the Vectiv Exploris is a thoroughly modern and lightweight shoe. Taking inspiration from their Vectiv trail running collection, this hiking-specific variation features a rockered profile for moving fast on the trail, full-length TPU plate in the midsole for stability, and a lightweight yet durable Cordura ripstop upper. In addition, they utilized their in-house Futurelight waterproofing, and the 3-layer construction helps minimize overheating when working hard in mild temperatures. The styling may be a little polarizing—it’s not as around town-friendly as alternatives like the Oboz Sypes below—but it’s clear a lot of thought and effort went into the design.

We took the Vectiv Exploris backpacking in Washington’s Olympic National Park and returned with mostly positive impressions. The shoe gripped well on everything from slippery downed trees to mud, and there was little to no break-in period. Further, the waterproof membrane held up extremely well despite the sloppy conditions and numerous creek crossings. The rockered shape did feel a little awkward at first—especially when standing still or walking slowly—but it really came to life and gave the shoe a natural and balanced feel when hiking quickly. All told, the newer design has a way to go to prove itself in terms of durability—plus we’d like to see how it performs on more technical terrain—but the Vectiv’s early report is a good one... Read in-depth review
See the Men's TNF Vectiv Exploris  See the Women's TNF Vectiv Exploris


16. Merrell MQM Flex 2 ($110)

Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: A nice option for fast-moving day hikers.
What we don’t: Durability concerns with the outsole.

In sharp contrast to the sturdy and comfortable Moab above is Merrell’s fast and light MQM Flex series. Offered in both mid-height and low-top shoes, the latter model resembles a slightly built-up trail runner with a thin mesh upper, nimble feel, and 1-pound-9-ounce listed weight (our men’s size 9s are even lighter at 1 lb. 7.7 oz.). But as we found while hiking throughout Washington’s Cascade Range, the MQM is at home on the trail with good toe and heel protection, a rock plate underfoot, and a secure fit.

We think the MQM Flex 2 is a great choice for ambitious day hikes or possibly short ultralight backpacking trips, but it isn’t as well-rounded as the Salomon X Ultra 3 (we’ve listed the GTX version above, but Salomon also makes a non-waterproof “Aero” that is 1 lb. 9.8 oz. and $120). To start, you get less cushioning with the Merrell, which translates to more foot soreness when hauling a heavy load or while moving over particularly rough terrain. Further, we’ve been disappointed with the durability of the outsole. The aggressive lugs do a great job biting into everything from hardpack dirt to rock and mud, but the rubber is too flexible, and we’ve broken multiple chunks off of the tread in only one season of testing. At a similar weight and price point, we prefer the longer-lasting and comfier Salomon... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Merrell MQM Flex 2  See the Women's Merrell MQM Flex 2


17. Oboz Sypes Low Leather Waterproof ($145)

Oboz Sypes Low Leather Waterproof hiking shoesCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Like the Danner Trail, this is a good-looking hiking shoe with everyday appeal.
What we don’t: Lacking in performance chops.

Oboz has been a long-time favorite among a certain crowd with hiking shoes like the Sawtooth and Bridger, but the brand has taken a turn toward to being hipper and more modern with the Sypes. We’ll start by noting that like the Danner Trail 2650 above, this shoe has a lot of everyday appeal with a sleek leather upper that looks much less like a hiker than the aforementioned models. In addition, you get Oboz’s proprietary BDry waterproof membrane, decent support and stability, and a fairly aggressive lug pattern for traction. All in all, the Sypes is a stylish yet moderately capable hiking shoe. 

Keep in mind that if you’re looking for serious cushioning and comfort on long trail days, the Oboz Sypes is not your best bet. The shoe is comfortable but feels flatter than some of the more technical models on the market, and if you plan on covering serious mileage, the performance chops and ruggedness are limited. In addition, you certainly can go cheaper and lighter, and especially if you are willing to give up things like waterproofing and the full-leather upper. But for a good-looking hiking shoe that can be worn to work and on short hikes after, the Sypes is a nice choice.
See the Men's Oboz Sypes  See the Women's Oboz Sypes


18. La Sportiva Wildcat ($120)

La Sportiva Wildcat hiking shoeCategory: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Lightweight but stable; long-distance comfort.
What we don’t: A step down in durability and toe protection from a true hiking shoe.

Years ago, we took a chance on the La Sportiva Wildcats as our daily trail runners. Quickly, we transitioned them to their better usage—fast-moving summer day hikes—thanks to the excellent shock absorption and breathability. We're not alone, as the Wildcat has garnered a lot of praise over the past few years, helping propel trail running shoes fully into the hiking footwear market. The outsole design, optimized for running over varied and rough terrain, is equally at home on the rocky and rooty hiking trails in the Cascades. Notably, we’ve also seen the shoes on a number of PCT thru-hikers.

One warning in turning to a true trail runner style for hiking: The minimalist toe cap does not offer nearly as much protection as a traditional hiking shoe. Further, the La Sportiva's thin mesh upper is more prone to tearing than an option like the Altra Lone Peak above. But despite a few sore toes and a couple pairs that didn't last as long as we hoped, the Wildcat remains a favorite for trail runs and day hikes throughout the summer months... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva Wildcat  See the Women's La Sportiva Wildcat


19. Salomon OUTline Low GTX ($130)

Salomon OUTline Low GTX hiking shoeCategory: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Light and modern with a running shoe-like feel.
What we don’t: Unimpressive in both comfort and durability.

Salomon’s ever-expanding hiking footwear line added the lightweight OUTline boot and shoe collection a couple years ago. And on paper, there was a lot to like with the low-top model: Its 1-pound-8.6-ounce weight easily undercuts the X Ultra 3 and 4 above, the shoe has a modern aesthetic that crosses over reasonably well to daily use, and its build quality appeared to be up to the French brand’s typical standards. Moreover, when we first tried it on, the OUTline immediately stood out with its running shoe-like feel.

Despite the positive first impressions, however, the OUTline disappointed in some key areas. First off, the fit is on the narrow side throughout, so even those with average-width feet could run into issues here. In addition, both of our testers dealt with quite a bit of foot soreness due to the minimalist cushioning. It’s worth noting we were hiking on relatively rocky trails, but they certainly weren’t overly technical, and we were only carrying light daypacks. Finally, the toe cap started to peel back on one pair only 13 miles into its test. The nimble build may do the trick for short day hikes, but we’ve concluded the OUTline isn’t Salomon’s best offering... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon OUTline  See the Women's Salomon OUTline


Hiking Shoe Comparison Table

Shoe Price Category Weight Waterproof Upper
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX $150 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 10.8 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Merrell Moab 2 Vent $110 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 15 oz. No Leather / mesh
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 $145 Trail runner 1 lb. 5.6 oz. No Mesh
La Sportiva Spire GTX $190 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 15 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Mesh
La Sportiva TX4 $140 Approach shoe 1 lb. 10 oz. No Leather
Danner Trail 2650 $170 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 8 oz. No Leather
Altra Lone Peak 6 $140 Trail runner 1 lb. 5.2 oz. No Mesh
Scarpa Rush Low GTX $169 Hiking shoe/trail runner 1 lb. 12.2 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic / mesh
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX $150 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 11.5 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Keen Targhee Low Vent $155 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 13.6 oz. No Leather
Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX $170 Hiking shoe/trail runner 1 lb. 8.4 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Salomon Cross Hike GTX $160 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 11.2 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Brooks Cascadia 16 $130 Trail runner 1 lb. 5 oz. No Synthetic
Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX $150 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 11.9 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
TNF Vectiv Exploris $159 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 10.3 oz. Yes (Futurelight) Mesh
Merrell MQM Flex 2 $110 Hiking shoe/trail runner 1 lb. 9 oz. No Mesh
Oboz Sypes Low $145 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 15.4 oz. Yes (BDry) Leather
La Sportiva Wildcat $120 Trail runner 1 lb. 9 oz. No Nylon mesh
Salomon OUTline Low GTX $130 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 8.6 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic


Hiking Shoe Buying Advice

Hiking Footwear Categories​

Hiking Shoes
For the vast majority of day hikers, and even a good number of backpackers and thru hikers, a hiking shoe that falls just below the ankle is the perfect match. Shoes like our top-rated Salomon X Ultra 3 are stiffer and more substantial than a trail runner for carrying a light load over mixed terrain, but not feel draggingly heavy like a full-on boot. Furthermore, hiking shoes often have a tougher construction than trail runners, with increased use of leather and durable nylons as opposed to mesh. Protection from obstacles like rocks and roots come courtesy of rubber toe caps and medium-stiff midsoles. Hiking shoes also are great options for folks needing a substantial shoe for daily wear, just be aware that the outsoles will wear faster on pavement.

Hiking shoes (Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX Grand Canyon)
Testing Arc'teryx's Aerios FL in the Grand Canyon

Trail Running Shoes
If moving fast trumps all else, you should consider a trail runner. These shoes have gained significant popularity over the past few years for being the ultimate lightweight option and are a common sight on thru hikes like the PCT and AT. That said, keep in mind that these types of shoes are not traditional off-trail or backpacking footwear. Trail runners are flexible and super comfortable, but they don’t provide much in the way of ankle support when you’re carrying a heavy load and generally have minimal toe and underfoot protection. For hikes on established trails or for experienced minimalist trekkers, however, a trail runner remains an excellent option. We’ve included a couple great hybrid trail running and hiking options in this article, but for a complete breakdown, see our article on the best trail running shoes.

Hiking shoes (lacing up Hoka One One Speedgoat trail runners)
Trail runners are the lightest option but compromise in stability and protection

Approach Shoes
The third option has a relatively narrow focus: climbers or hikers that need a grippy shoe to tackle steep rocky terrain. Many rock climbers will use an approach shoe on the hike in (hence, the “approach” name), and swap out to a true climbing shoe when the going gets vertical. Approach shoes are easy to spot: They have a large rubber toe rand and a sticky, low-profile rubber compound underfoot for maximum grip on rock. The shoes can be plenty comfortable on day hikes, especially a crossover style like the La Sportiva TX4, but aren’t what we typically recommend as a daily driver. The treads aren’t as secure on muddy hiking trails and they’re not as comfortable underfoot for long trail days. If, however, your day hikes include a lot of scrambling or low grade rock climbing, an approach shoe is an excellent choice.

Hiking shoes (La Sportiva TX4 traction)
The La Sportiva TX4 has excellent traction on rock


Arguably, the most important change in modern hiking shoe technology is the movement to lightweight designs. Tough but thin fabrics and a shift from over-the-ankle boots to low-top shoes have made putting on major miles a lot easier. It’s no surprise most thru-hikers now choose a hiking shoe over a traditional leather boot. Many of the shoes on our list weigh 2 pounds or less for a pair—by comparison, a backpacking boot like the Asolo TPS 520 tips the scales at nearly 4 pounds. And on your feet, the weight is even more apparent. True, the drop in ounces sometimes impacts long-term durability, but there are still a number of compelling hiking boots for traditionalists and those needing the extra support. For most, a lightweight shoe is a much better partner for day hikes, peak bagging and minimalist overnighters. And as long as the rest of your gear is equally light, there are very few sacrifices.

Hiking shoes (Merrell MQM Flex in Utah)
Lightweight shoes like the Merrell MQM Flex make it easier to cover ground quickly

Stability and Support

As a reflection of the push for lighter gear in all facets, hiking shoes are moving away from the traditional stiff construction of a hiking boot in favor of flexibility and a nimble feel. All hiking footwear (excluding some minimalist trail runners) does retain a degree of stiffness thanks to built-in shanks or internal supports. These features are part of what separate a hiking shoe (and approach shoe) from a super flexy cross trainer or road-running shoe.

For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain, we can’t recommend a lightweight and semi-flexible hiking shoe enough. Shoes like the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator and Keen Targhee Low are standouts for these uses. As your trips get longer and your pack gets heavier, a more substantial shoe still wins out for us. Look to the Salomon X Ultra 3 and Arc'teryx Aerios FL for great all-around options that are equally adept at conquering summit peaks and multi-day backpacking.

Hiking shoe (Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX hiking over rocks)
Adidas' Terrex Swift R3 provides excellent stability in a lightweight package


Once you narrow your hiking footwear search, you may be considering the GTX question: Do you need waterproofing or not? In theory, waterproofing is a nice security blanket if you’ll be hiking in the mountains. The extra protection that comes with a waterproof and breathable membrane inserted into the shoe is great for creek crossings, surprise rainfall or if you hit snow on an early season trek. But the extra layer adds weight, impacts breathability pretty significantly (discussed below), and the designs aren’t always perfect. We’ve found Gore-Tex models to work consistently well, and many in-house designs perform similarly keeping water out (breathability is a different story), including the Oboz Sypes' BDry technology.

Hiking shoes (hiking on beach with La Sportiva Spire)
Putting waterproofing to the test on Washington's Olympic Peninsula

Whether or not you need waterproofing often comes down to a personal choice. Are you a summer-only hiker or live in a warm and dry area? We’d recommend a non-waterproof shoe in most cases, and some of the best ventilating shoes are the La Sportiva Wildcat and Merrell Moab 2. But if you get into the alpine regions or would benefit from the added protection and modest insulation waterproofing provides, we’d lean the other way. The great news is that most shoes on our list are offered in both varieties. Expect to pay about $20 to $30 more for the addition of waterproofing.

Hiking shoe (The North Face Vectiv Exploris stepping on log)
The North Face's Vectiv Exploris uses their in-house Futurelight membrane


The truth about waterproof liners, even expensive Gore-Tex booties, is that they don’t breathe well—just as a waterproof jacket won’t be as breathable as a comparable non-waterproof version. Simply put, waterproof and breathable membranes restrict a shoe’s ability to pull moisture away from your sweaty feet as efficiently as a non-waterproof upper. Not all non-waterproof shoes should be treated equally, however. Footwear that features thinner fabrics and a lot of mesh will increase moisture transfer and airflow, which will keep feet less sweaty in hot weather as well as dry out soggy socks far more quickly.

Hiking shoes (Salomon OUTline upper material)
Mesh upper materials greatly improve comfort in hot conditions

Gore-Tex Surround, which is designed to bring 360 degrees of breathability by venting out the insole of the shoe, is an intriguing, if expensive, concept. It’s been well received in a few models, including the La Sportiva Spire, but performance will always fall short of a shoe made mostly of mesh (for more, see our in-depth Spire review). No matter your final decision, we encourage you to at least give non-waterproof footwear a thought before selecting your next pair of hiking shoes.

Lacing Systems

Easily overlooked, laces, as well as the lacing system of hooks and eyelets, play an essential role in fit and comfort. If a shoe has a poor lacing system that is prone to loosening, you’ll find yourself having to readjust constantly on the trail. If the system itself doesn’t secure your heel very well, the up and down walking motion will create hot spots and blisters. If the culprit is just the laces themselves, it’s an easy fix: There are a number of good quality replacement laces available. But if the system design doesn’t hold your foot very well, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Hiking shoes (laces comparison)
Laces on approach shoes extend to the toes for easy fit customization

Some models, including the Salomon X Ultra 3 and 4, have a single-pull lacing system. The design is totally convenient and we’ve had no more issues with durability than a traditional lace. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you aren’t able to adjust the fit between eyelets, so the fit will be equally tight across the entire foot. Those with finicky feet that need to fine tune their laces to be comfortable may be best served avoiding quick lace designs.

Hiking shoes (Salomon QuickLace)
Salomon's speed laces aren't for everyone, but they're fast and cinch evenly

Hiking Shoe "Upper" Materials

Hiking shoe upper material is not the most exciting topic, but checking the construction can give helpful insights into its performance. The type of material used will correlate directly with a shoe's durability, water-resistance, and ability to breathe. Most often, hiking and trail shoes are made with a mix of nylon, mesh, and leather to balance cost and longevity. Below, we spell out the pros and cons for the most common materials used for hiking footwear.

Synthetic Nylon and Mesh
Woven synthetic (often nylon) as well as open synthetic mesh panels are commonly used to aid breathability. These materials are not as well known for their durability, but they do a great job of cutting weight. Exceptions include the Salomon X Ultra 3, which is made of tightly woven synthetic upper that has comparable levels of durability to some Nubuck leathers.

Hiking shoes (La Sportiva Wildcat upper)
The open, breathable mesh upper on the La Sportiva Wildcat

Nubuck Leather
Made of full grain leather, but given a brushed finish that has a suede-like feel, Nubuck leather is a common sight on heavier duty hiking shoes. The softer touch leather is lighter and more flexible than traditional, glossy full-leather options, and is more durable than most nylons. It does fall short in breathability, however. As a result, it’s common to find a mix of leather and nylon mesh for abrasion resistance and breathability, including the Merrell Moab and Keen Targhee Vent.

Hiking shoes (resting at lake with Danner Trail 2650 shoes)
Resting at an alpine lake with the leather Danner Trail 2650

Midsoles and Cushioning

Digging a little deeper into the shoe's construction, we'll look at midsole construction next. Its importance lies in cushioning your feet, working as a shock absorber from impacts, and providing an additional layer of protection from sharp rocks. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very thin (minimalist trail runner) to stiff and substantial (burly hiking shoe). Most include EVA, TPU, or a combination of both in their construction.

Foam EVA midsoles are a common site on running and hiking footwear. The cushy soft material takes some of the sting out of your heel or midfoot impacts and is also extremely lightweight. While nearly all shoes on this list use some sort of EVA, the proprietary versions can vary from super soft to mildly stiff. For logging serious miles on tougher terrain, we prefer a firm and supportive midsole as opposed to too much cushioning. Those overly soft midsoles also have a tendency to break down overtime, much like a road-running shoe. In general, you pay more for an improved midsole design and a higher-quality EVA compound.

Hiking shoe (Merrell MQM Flex 2 midsole)
Merrell's MQM Flex 2 has a fairly thin EVA midsole and is best suited for done-in-a-day activities

Thermoplastic polyurethane, (mercifully) shortened to TPU, is a durable plastic commonly found in performance-oriented light hikers. Shoes that use TPU underfoot are often less cushy than those with only EVA but will last longer and better handle a heavier load. In addition, they’ll keep their shape longer and won’t be prone to compressing like EVA. Because both midsole types have valid applications and TPU is more expensive, it’s common for a manufacturer to use a TPU frame or shank for stability and toughness and add in EVA underfoot to increase comfort.

Hiking shoes (Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX)
A quality midsole improves comfort when wearing a heavy pack

Outsoles and Traction

One of the main reasons to upgrade from a flimsy cross trainer to a true hiking shoe is for improved traction. In a way that more casual footwear can never match, hiking and trail running footwear is leaps and bounds better when the going gets rocky, slippery, and steep. And much in the same way that Gore-Tex dominates the market for mid to high-end waterproofing, Vibram inhabits a similar space for outsoles. Their name is synonymous with solid grip and traction in a variety of terrain. Not all Vibram models should be treated as equals, however, as the rubber manufacturer tailors their designs for the specific footwear and brand. Some have much larger lugs underfoot for serious grip in mud, and others prioritize sticky rubber for scrambling over rocks. There are also more entry-level options that just do well on easier trails, like the lugs you’ll find on the bottom of the Merrell Moab 2 boots and shoes.

Hiking shoes (Danner Trail 2650 Vibram outsole)
We were impressed with the traction from the Danner Trail 2650's Vibram outsole 

Salomon is one brand that doesn’t outsource their traction needs. Instead, they use their in-house Contagrip compound for all of their hiking and trail running models. We’ve found the level of quality and performance is in-line with the Vibram offerings across the board, from anything from their fast-and-light X Ultra 3 and 4 hiking shoes to the burly Salomon Quest 4 backpacking boots.

Hiking shoes (Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX on steep and wet rocks)
The X Ultra 4 uses Salomon's well-rounded Contagrip rubber

Toe Protection

Hiking trails, even well maintained ones, are full of rocks, roots and other potential hazards, so we almost always recommend a hiking shoe with some type of toe cap. Lacking any protection on the front of your shoes can lead to a trip ruining impact when you inevitably look up from the trail to enjoy the scenery. Hiking shoes typically have a full rubber toe cap, but trail runners sometimes have a trimmed down version or none at all—one of the compromises in opting for a minimalist shoe. Approach shoes, on the other hand, have exceptional toe protection with their wraparound rubber rand at the front of the shoe.

Hiking shoes (toe protection)
Toe protection on the Merrell Moab 2


Just like with running shoes, the stock insoles that come with nearly every hiking shoe generally are cheap. For some, this might not make a difference, but for others it’s what separates comfort from misery. Thankfully, removing your insoles is super easy, and replacing them with an aftermarket model that’s specific to your foot size and shape can remedy most shoe maladies. New insoles can provide more or less volume to fill out the shoe, improve the fit under the arch, and increase or decrease the cushion and impact shock. We recommend checking out Superfeet insoles for their wide selection of options and trusted reputation in daily shoes, ski boots, and hiking footwear.

Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

Perhaps the biggest point of differentiation between hiking shoes and boots is height: Shoes have a low-top fit, while boots generally sit above the ankle. Hiking shoes excel on smooth trails where rolled ankles are less of a possibility, if you keep your pack weight down, and for those who want to move fast with less on their feet. Tradition tells us that hiking boots are the better choice for heavy packs and rough trails, and in most cases that holds true today. The tall height, along with laces that hold the shoe snugly around your ankle, offer a more secure fit, greater stability, and more protection. Given the choice, we most often select a hiking shoe for their light feel, but both are viable options for day hiking, backpacking, and non-alpine peak bagging.

Hiking boot (shuttling heavy pack with Lowa Renegade GTX Mid)
We prefer a hiking boot when carrying a heavy pack and traveling over difficult terrain

In 2022 and beyond, we see the lines between hiking shoe and boot categories continuing to blur. They still will be separated by height—although some modern boots only cover part of the ankle—but fewer and fewer boots resemble the heavyweight leather clunkers of old. One example is the over-the-ankle version of our top-rated Salomon X Ultra 3. It’s the exact same shoe with the same defining characteristics—feathery feel, aggressive stance, and supportive fit—but the “Mid” sits slightly higher on the ankle, weighs a couple more ounces, provides a little more protection, and perhaps a modest increase in rollover prevention. Since most folks stick to defined trails, the push for this type of light and fast footwear will continue to take over the market.
Back to Our Top Hiking Shoe Picks  Back to Our Hiking Shoe Comparison Table

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