Ding ding! There’s a fight going on in the world of hiking boots, if you didn’t already know.
And the grand finale is being slugged out in the boxing ring, with yours truly acting as the ref.
Because when it comes to choosing the right footwear for your hiking expedition, it is a mightily tight contest – and there a whole host of contenders.
A bit like a fight, hiking boots are divided into a lightweight, midweight and heavyweight.
However, they aren’t the only ones with a dog in this fight. There are also the outsiders, peering in from beyond the ring, who are beginning to gain traction.
Rest assured, your trusty guide will tell you everything you need to know to back the right contender.
And picking the right boot for the job will be less like a boxing match and more of a nice relaxing walk in the park.
Table of Contents:
Our Guide to Choosing The Best Hiking Boots for Men
- Hiking Shoes
- Mountaineering Boots
- Trail Runners
- The ABC’s of Soles
- Trying them on
- Keeping them dry
Top Selections – Reviews
- Salomon Men’s Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
- KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boot
- Hi-Tec Men’s Moreno Hiking Boot
- Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boot
- Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boot
- Columbia Men’s Mudhawk Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Merrell Men’s Annex Mid Gore-Tex Boot
- Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot
- Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Multi-functional Hiking Boot
Let’s dive in!
How To Choose The Best Hiking Boots For Men – Your Complete Guide
A hiking boot, as opposed to a shoe, has a considerable amount of ankle support.
For anyone who has hurt themselves in past adventures, an inadequate hiking boot which lacked the proper support is the most likely culprit.
A hiking boot should protect both you from all hazards, including falling and twisting your damned ankle at 1000 ft.
Generally, hiking boots are considered the heaviest of all options (although they are becoming lighter) and fall into one of three categories.
Out of all types of hiking boot, these are going to provide a lower level of ankle protection. However, it is still there.
The ankle collar height will be shorter than the others. The boot will also be lighter (hence the name!)
You might choose this if your load is light and you’re not carrying much with you.
A lightweight boot might be your compromise solution between the lightness of a shoe, or trail runner and the total support of a heavyweight hiker.
A midweight hiking boot gives a decent amount of ankle support, with a collar that covers your ankle, but doesn’t extend all the way up your shin.
These are solid constructions and might feel a tad inflexible, at least to begin with. The tradeoff here is that they protect your ass (ankles) from all assailants.
If you’ve got a fair bit to carry and are going to be walking a long way, these could be for you.
If you want something that can take anything that life throws at it, then here’s your solution!
Okay, a heavyweight hiking boot is never going to be the most comfortable experience out of the box. But they’re getting better.
No more do you have to endure months of torture and a century-long breaking in period.
Yes, maybe their primary focus is sending out an S.O.S. (saving our soles) and not kissing our feet goodnight – but they are a whole lot more comfortable than they used to be and getting lighter to boot!
All the same, be aware that these will be fairly heavy to have on your feet.
The trade-off is no twisted ankle or broken toes, absolutely no chance of being impaled on something nasty and complete peace of mind with waterproofing.
But hang on a minute, are you even sure you need a hiking boot at all. Hiking shoes plug the awkward gap between a trail runner and a hiking boot.
This gives you the flexibility, comfort and lightness found in a trail runner, but also some of the protection afforded by a boot.
Quite often, many hiking shoes are waterproofed these days.
A hiking shoe should have a tough sole, that is going to outlive that of a trail runner and give better protection. It also will be a little heavier than the lighter trail runner.
Essentially, a hiking shoe may well be a smaller version of a hiking boot.
But remember, you’re not getting the same ankle support and so they may be best for experienced hikers, with well-toned ankle and heel muscles!
You’re probably not going to consider a mountaineering boot unless, well, you’re off up a mountain.
These are, as the name suggests, designed for use with a lot of heavy mountaineering equipment. So if you’re handling crampons, these are a must.
We can’t lie though, these are never going to be like walking on air – the long ankle collar sees to that. On the other hand, they are safest for wearing when serious climbing needs to be done.
Well insulated and perfect for extreme cold, you may also choose from for arduous trips involving a lot of bad weather and heavy loads.
Trail running shoes have surged in popularity, due to their lightness and comfort.
It’s true, these do not feel like stepping into a vat of concrete, like many of the heavier boots do. They are great for anyone on a shorter hike, who isn’t carrying a ton of kit.
These are cut low down and won’t give your ankles any protection. Nor will they help you out massively if you step on something sharp. The soles do have some serious lugs for traction, however.
Do bear in mind these are usually made from mesh. This makes them breathable and great for sweaty feet – but not so good for wet conditions.
The downside of trail runners is that they simply won’t last as long as a sturdier boot will do.
But if comfort and lightness is your priority, then a pair of trail runners could be just the ticket.
ABC OF SOLES
There is more than one sole in your footwear. To help you better appreciate what the manufacturers are banging on about, here is our guide to sole.
The outsole is the outer level of the shoe, which connects with the ground.
This is where the tread or lug is on the shoe is situated and probably the first thing you will be concerned about when choosing hiking boots.
As the name implies, the midsole is in the middle of the construction and is essentially the meat in your sandwich.
A well-made midsole is vital to ensure the comfort and support for your feet. Something which is going to be important, if you plan to cover hundreds of miles in these things!
The insole will be the first thing your feet are aware of, when trying on the boot. This is the first port of contact for the base of the shoe and how it feels is important.
A good insole should provide ample cushioning, as well as good moisture control.
Put simply, it is going to get sweaty in there without the right sort of damp coursing!
Insoles can be replaced or added in to your footwear, so you get the right fit for you.
A liner is a waterproof membrane layer, which may form a part of your shoe or boot. It may be made from GORE-TEX or a similar material.
However, this might make the boot sweaty, something worth remembering if you are hiking in the heat.
Pay special attention to the material and the construction of the upper – this is the top part of the shoe or boot, next to the midsole.
TLC FOR YOUR FEET – THE TRYING GUIDE
How to try on a pair of shoes may not sound like something that you need help with – but you could end up wishing you had taken some advice when stranded up a hillside, with blisters!
Here’s how to put your prospective footwear through its paces, so you choose the right pair!
• Wear Socks – don’t make the newbie mistake of going shoe shopping without your favorite pair of hiking socks to try the boots on with.
Regular socks just won’t cut it and you may find the shoe too tight once you hit the open road. Just remember to wash them first, to avoid any embarrassment!
• Remove The Insole – we recommend taking out the insole and then placing it on the floor. Now step onto it.
You need to ensure that your feet fit comfortably on it, with your heel firmly to the back.
It should not fit too snugly. There should be a gap of approximately one finger’s width from your big toe, to the edge of the insole.
For a more general guide, you should be looking to scale up by half a size from your usual fitting.
• Lace It Up – When lacing the boot, make sure the tongue is dead center before beginning.
• Walk The Plank – You need to walk up – and down – on an incline or ramp. Within the confines of a shop – yeah, hard we know, but give it a try.
Because when you walk down a hill, you want to know that your feet are secure. Not move about inside the boot – that’s how blisters happen. If you find your heel moving, then it’s the wrong fit.
We’re still not done with slopes – this time you want to be paying attention to the front of the boot. Look at the creases on it.
If they are particularly deep, then that shoe is probably not for you and will cause you discomfort later down the line.
And we’re still not done with marching about like a pranny in the shoe shop – sorry!
This time, you want to stomp up and down the incline, like you’re about to invade Poland.
When you do this, your feet will be pushed to the end of the boot. If they are connecting with it, then the boot is too small.
This is what you want to have that extra bit of gap in the boot for.
• Go Late In The Day – …and one last bit of advice when it comes to the successful choice of a new hiking boot is to go as late as you can do.
This is because your feet will be bigger by then, having spent all day on them. Remember, when you wear these boots your feet are going to swell. So they need to fit at the end of the hike just as well as the beginning.
TLC FOR YOUR FOOTWEAR – THE DRYING GUIDE
Hiking boots need love too, but it is easy to overlook this. The better you look after them, the better they can look after you!
After all, you don’t want to have to go through this torturous process of choosing another pair (never mind the expense!) anytime soon.
• Clean ‘Em Up – At the end of your hike get all the dirt off the boots as soon as you can do. Being caked in mud for weeks on end is not going to do them any favors.
Check with the manufacturer for the particular care guide they recommend for the model, paying particular attention to the type of material it is made from.
Everyday dish soap should be fine for leather boots, but it is something that needs checking.
• Moisturize Me! – Your skin is not the only thing to need protection before/after a long hike. In the same way that you may apply sunscreen or a moisturizing lotion to combat exposure to the elements, your boots are crying out for the same attention.
This means waterproofing them and treating them with a suitable conditioner.
• Dry Me! – Even if you ignore the rest of this guide, the one thing you MUST do is dry your boots the right way.
This means categorically never putting them near the camp fire to dry. It makes leather crack up and it’s not good for other materials either.
The general rule is, if it is too hot for your hand, then it’s too hot for your boots. Think – leather is a skin, treat it with the same respect you’d give your own!
This also applies to leaving your boots anywhere too hot, for too long. Exposure to extreme heat is a no-no so think before you leave your poor old hiking boots in the back of your car.
…AND THE WINNER IS?
In the all mighty scrum to become your next hiking boot, we don’t know which of our main contenders you will pick.
But hopefully, by following our guide, the real winners will be your feet!
All of the hiking boots on the list below are of the highest quality. You will notice the average price point as well, and this is what you should expect to pay for very good quality, durability and comfort.
Salomon Men’s Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
4.7 stars / $90 – $260
These are not cheap as you might expect, but according to every review that we have read, and that’s a lot, they excel in both terms of quality and durability.
We will do a more detailed review further down the page, but if you just want a great pair of boots that buyers love and rate highly, then these make an excellent choice.
On average, we give these hiking boots 4.7 out of 5 stars, and this sentiment is echoed around the web as you’ll no doubt find, so you should have a lot of reassurance that you are buying a very high quality product.
They are easy to break in, comfortable, have a great lacing system, offer sound stability, look great and according to almost every buyer last for ages.
KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $95 – $145
KEEN is one of the biggest companies in footwear, and particularly they make an awesome hiking boot.
The KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is one of their finest achievements in this regard, with a high average buyer rating of 4.6 on Amazon.com, with over 840 buyer reviews behind it.
The list of great features is fairly long with this hiking boot, but some of them include the KEEN.DRY insert, which is a breathable membrane that offers a barrier against moisture, but lets air in, so that your feet can stay dry and comfortable all day long.
Also these men’s hiking boots feature S3 heel support.
The “3” stands for “Shock”, “Suspension”, and “Stability” and it is referring to the unique arch support found in the heel.
This S3 technology is specifically designed to prevent injury to the heel, and provides great shock absorption.
Highly recommended for anyone doing extended hikes, but it can obviously help with walking too.
Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $50 – $90
With the Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Hiking Boots, we have a boot which is thoroughly waterproof, has soft, cushioned EVA midsoles for added comfort, and rubber soles which absorb a great deal of impact when you’re hiking or navigating rocky terrain.
The look of this hiking boot is designed to be simple, but when you look closely you’ll notice that they are well-designed, and actually rather stylish, although in a more subtle, earthy way that makes them perfect for wearing out and about, and on just about any type of occasion.
On top of that, you’re getting treated leather, which is PU-coated along with suede, which only adds to the appearance of these hiking boots.
In addition to their insulated design work, you get outsoles which are Omni-Grip high traction, which will allow you to not only walk on rough ground, but climb and move over even more difficult terrain with ease.
The D-Cap lace closure ensures that your foot is secure, so no matter what the circumstances, this boot is staying firmly on your foot, if its laced up tightly.
Hi-Tec Men’s Moreno Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $50 – $75
The Moreno Hiking Boot by Hi-Tec are an excellent choice if you want a hiking boot that looks a little bit more like a sneaker, is lightweight, but still very durable.
These hiking boots are just as much focused on comfort and flexibility, as they are about having a sturdy shoe that can withstand even the most rugged terrain.
These hiking boots are also great for casual strolls, as they are well cushioned, particularly around the ankle section of the boot, and where they lace up as well.
The tongue is gusseted to keep out particles.
With stylish synthetic leather uppers, and EVA midsoles, as all good hiking boots must have, your feet will feel free, and they can breathe quite well.
They will also stay very warm when the weather gets cold, and they are waterproof, so they can be good for shoveling the sidewalk, just as well as taking a hike on snowy trails.
Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $90 – $125
As you can tell by their name, these Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Boots are focused on having ample breathability, not to mention having more than adequate support and flexibility.
You also receive mid-height dura leather and nylon, which not only adds to the overall quality of this hiking boot, but it looks really good too, and will last a long time.
The performance of these Merrell boots cannot be underestimated, really.
Their padded tongue guards your foot against lace pressure, but the boot remains very airy and light.
Inside these hiking boots you’ll find footbeds which are 4.5 mm thick, but totally removable.
These are anatomically shaped in order for your foot to remain relaxed at all times, and this is partly why you can walk in these hiking boots for extended periods without feeling cramps or strain of any kind.
Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $60 – $160
Timberland offers a great pair of hiking boots with the Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boots, which are mid cut hiking boots at their best.
These are a tall hiking boot which go up over the ankle level, which is a good thing for protecting those bones which are located in that area, if you are doing some hiking and ankle protection is a must.
The shaft itself measures just about 5″ from the arch.
With a padded and cushioned interior that fights against friction burns and general rubbing, these hiking boots will definitely keep you warm in those long winter months.
Whether you are an active hiker or not, these are a solid choice for a winter boot, as they are quite multi-purpose.
These hiking boots are made from full-grain, waterproof leather, so you get the style and comfort of true leather,as opposed to the synthetic stuff, which can look good, but it’s not the real deal.
Columbia Men’s Mudhawk Waterproof Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $80 – $110
This is a highly versatile and stylish hiking boot brought to you by the folks at Columbia, which features seam-sealed waterproof leather, not to mention metallic hardware lacing.
It is an excellent choice for hikers or walkers who are looking for something that combines the durability of a true hiking-style boot, with the style and design aesthetics of a comfortable running shoe.
Columbia offers two in-house technologies which this shoe has, and those are its Omni-Grip traction outsole, as well as its Techlite-cushioned midsole.
You can read more about these in our full review, but what it amounts to, is a very comfortable hiking boot that can take you over all sorts of harsh terrains.
These shoes will last you several seasons, with durability here being paramount.
There are a number of logos placed on this hiking boot, so you can show off that you own a pair of these.
Merrell Men’s Annex Mid Gore-Tex Boot
4.5 stars / $110 – 180
Merrell brings us these casual hiking boots, which are, like all of the hiking boots we mention on this list, designed with comfort in mind, cushioning and cradling your foot for maximum comfort.
In terms of appearance, you will receive oiled leather, and the added benefit of textile uppers, which will keep your feet completely warm with their proprietary Gore-Tex technology, changing the way you live your life in the great outdoors.
Whether you are exploring mountainous regions, or simply walking through the city, your feet will feel no pain with the support they receive from these men’s hiking boots from Merrell.
They have breathable lining and a “Remember Me Foam” footbed, which also has a resistant outsole made from rubber, which provides traction for any situation you find yourself in.
Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot
4.5 stars / $50 – $175
This hiking boot has thousands of buyer reviews, and a high average rating of 4.5 stars across the web, which is a lot for any product really.
These Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots are quite possibly one of the most popular hiking boots available in 2016, and we’d say it’s for good reasons.
This hiking shoe comes in two sizes: standard and wide, which is good for those with an especially wide foot.
Since many people have this issue with not finding boots wide enough for their feet, this is a great option thanks to Timberland.
With a premium full-grain waterproof leather upper for durability, comfort, and resistance against abrasions, as well as waterproof, seam-sealed construction, your feet will be kept dry.
Yes, even when you’re slogging through snow, or traipsing through the torrential rain, the one thing that will be kept dry will be your feet, if nothing else.
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Multi-functional Hiking Boot
4.5 stars / $100 – $180
Made from imported leather, these Salomon men’s hiking boots come equipped with a gusseted tongue, which acts as a debris filter by attaching the tongue of the boot to the upper, as well as a protective rubber toe cap that will keep your toes guarded when you’re entering rough terrain.
The boot contains Gore-Tex, which is a waterproof material which will effectively keep your feet moisture-free.
The lining of the boot is abrasion resistant, so you will find this boot will keep your feet much more protected than most other hiking boots.
In terms of general measurements, these Salomon hiking boots have a shaft measuring 5″ from the arch, as well as a 1.5″ heel.
Salomon also offers their patented SensifitTM system, which works to cradle your foot, offering a very snug and secure fit.
This is a very popular choice for men who are into hiking, and similar pastimes, which call for a boot with several different technologies working behind it, to keep your feet safe, comfortable, and dry.