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Best Hiking Footwear

Old and New Hiking Boots
Old and New Hiking Boots

What is the best hiking footwear: Hiking boots, mids or trail runners?

Like backpacks, I think that hiking footwear is a very personal choice since the fit of footwear varies s much between different people. What’s your experience been like in finding the best hiking footwear and what factors brought you to your current choice.

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  1. I wear Teva Dozer sandals for any terrain I hike, which is usually in the Great Smoky Mountains. I love these sandals because my feet get claustrophobic in shoes but i’m flat footed so I cant wear things like chacos that have extreme arch support. These sandals are open enough that my feet can breathe but sturdy enough that I can cover the terrain safely.

  2. I use a Merrell pair of trail runners (don’t know the name, got them on clearance for $20 :D). They are super light and very flexible. Perfect for those long days on PA rocks on the AT! Boots never really worked for me because of how stiff the sole is. I’m always left with aching feet! These trail runners are my favorite hiking shoe so far!

  3. I wear Northface hiking shoes; they are comfortable and offer good support

  4. I wear Merrell Moab waterproof boots for my day hikes. The boots are light and give me excellent support on the rocky Georgia trail.

  5. Well, let’s see I own 7 pairs of Keen shoes/boots. My Keen Targhee’s took me over 400 miles here at home on the Sheltowee Trace and other trails in preparation for my AT Hike which will cover two years. Last year I did just about 500 miles to Damascus. Waterproofing went “kaput” around mile 1,000…can’t complain about that. Still using them here for “sidewalk” hiking as I try to stay in shape for 2015’s “Aim for Maine”. You guessed right! Another pair of Keen Targhee’s ready and waiting for my early May start.And oh yes..one more thing, I have been wearing Keen Targhee’s for several years so why change. Several hikers on the AT “informed” me that my boots were for very light weight hiking…never, ever have I had a blister and with the wear I get out of them. An outfitter along the AT suggested my boots were for larger capacity than my narrow feet. What? at that time I was around mile 700 on them! What was he smoking?…Wow! just can’t recommend anything else…excellent on all surfaces..rough, wet, and hard.

  6. I wear Timberland Ion Mask Technology by P2i when hiking for a variety of reasons. I love that it a lightweight, breathable, odor resistant and extremely durable. They are so comfortable and dry quickly when dry. I am currently breaking in my second pair after the first pair gave up the ghost after 700 miles or so of hard use including 300 miles on the AT in 2012. All I did was replace the insole with a gell arch support insert and go. ? Love these boots! ?

  7. My wife and I both wear Salomon Goretex Quest 4d GTX hiking boots to hike various trails in Pennsylvania most notably the AppalachianTrail which is notorious for being rocky. These boots are extremely comfortable, waterproof and provide the much needed ankle support that I need. Never had cold or wet feet while wearing these boots. Jagged rocks pose no threat to your feet while wearing these babies. We love them.

  8. I wear Ahnu low top shoes. I wear them on all terrain types, including pavement, in all weather conditions. I wear them because of fit and durability. They’ve got a perfect wide toe box, they don’t bind across the top of the foot, and they cup the heel well without too much pressure on the Achilles tendon.

  9. I love my plain old Hi-Tec Altitudes. I do mainly off trail hiking and they’ve performed really well. Light and comfy and not overly expensive, I think they are a great choice for either on or off trail hiking.

  10. I wear Merrell Moab Woman’s.. I’ve hiked katahdin, the 100 mile wilderness and beyond in them, as well as the CT section of the AT, parts of the wonderful rocky PA section of the AT, Delicate Arche in UT, Bright Angel in AZ (Grand Canyon), Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Zion… and more random terrain all over (all the same pair!). I just got another new pair for my trip to Alaska this summer, I think I’m well overdue, but boy did they hold up like champs!! I cannot wear boots, they are too heavy and restraining, in my opinion. Although, I did wear my Oboz Boots hiking the narrows in Zion because I wanted to be able to hike dry afterward. And I was reminded why I don’t like boots, yet again.

  11. i recently got a pair of -georgia boot- hikers i believe i will put some serious miles on this year.. the terrain.. well it will include of course the
    – AT – as i live an inexcusable distance of 7 miles away from it here in ct..
    but will dabble a bit in a couple sierra mountains of northern california soon to break em in, on the hunt for a long lost gold mine :) or leadfoot meets bigfoot , which ever comes first..oh yeah..and why do i wear em? because its what i got (xmas gift) and my -vans- suck on wet ground bigtime ;) happy hiking

  12. I have been wearing Cabela brand hiking boots for about 10 years. I am on my third pair. I hike on bike paths, but I use them also while camping and early spring turkey hunting and other times I’m in the woods. I bought the first pair not knowing how they would be, but after 2 years, they held up great. so I kept buying the same model/brand. why change what works?

  13. I’ll be trekking the AT nobo this year with my Oboz Bridger Bdry. They’re extremely comfortable with almost no break in time. The heal cup and rocker make hiking feel like floating.

  14. I wear Salomon Speed Cross 3 for hiking and backpacking. The terrain is usually hilly with dirt and tree roots. These shoes allow me to keep a good grip on the ground and allow for more speed as I hike. They are lightweight as well so I don’t feel so heavy as I walk.

  15. I wear Keen Target II mid not only while backpacking the Appalachian Trail, but as my general all purpose footware. These boots provide me with good support in all kinds of terrain. I started wearing them all the time when my orthopedic surgeon recommend it to prevent further injury.

  16. I wear a pair of Brooke’s trail runners. Most of my hiking is in the rocky areas of the Appalachian trail around Maryland and Pennsylvania. I love how light they are and how quick they dry.

  17. I have worn Merrell Moab Ventilators every year on section hikes since 2008. I have hiked the AT in them from Springer Mountain to Davenport Gap. They are lightweight, extremely comfortable and have good treads that have kept me from slipping on numerous occasions.

  18. i wear Vasque St. Elias GTX for all my hiking needs. I wear them because they are light enough when I want to move fast and sturdy enough when I’m carrying a heavier load.

  19. I wear Merrell Moab Waterproof Hiking shoes. They are light and comortable. The fact that they are waterproof is a bonus.

  20. I wear Altra Lone Peak for all of my hiking or trail running. Planing on 11 day hike in March. That is what I will wear.

  21. Well, since Vasque stopped making my style of shoe, I have been on a quest to find a new one. I mostly just use the sneakers I currently own for the short hikes I get out on. I used montrail low top trailrunners when I started the trail. Bought the Vasque in Harper’s Ferry and with no break in time whatsoever finished the trail with them. They were that good.

  22. My preferred trail shoe is MERRELL Moab Ventilator. I wore them nearly exclusively on the PCT, in the snow, rain and through sand and rivers and general trails. They are a superb shoe for hikers, in my humble opinion

  23. The footgear I use hiking = Brooks Cascadia Trail Runners. I went through 4 pairs on my 2013 AT hike. Worked great. They fit my feet perfectly. Water drains quickly. So many hikers use Cascadia that Brooks put a disclaimer on their website that they are not meant for backpacking.

  24. I wear Salomon XA Pro 3Ds because they are a terrific fit for me. Like the majority of hikers, I’ve been through lots of brands and models trying to find the perfect shoe. And like many, I’ve experienced the heartbreak of learning that my favorites have been discontinued. That’s why I have a spare pair of these Salomons stashed away.

  25. For short hikes I have a pair of Merrel low hikers. I really like them because they are much lighter than my boots. I bought them on clearance at the merrell outlet and don’t know which style they are. My other hikers are a pair of Keen Targhee. They are really comfortable and have great support in different terrains.

  26. I use Keen low cut hikers in all terrains. Don’t like high boots. Haven’t tried trail runners but want to

  27. Hello Phil,

    Enjoyed reading all the entries waiting for the entry date to pass. I was justing getting back to a good place with my planter fasciitis after switching to an AARN pack. But fate intervened and a non trail foot injury took me out. Nothing seemed to work as all my boots and shoes caused pain. A friend suggested birkenstock sandals. Wasn’t I a skeptic. But they were comfortable and my foot slowly recovered. I bought a pair of birkenstock sandals (not leather) with an ankle strap and some kayak socks to go over my Injins. It allows for pain free walking with my pack. Drawbacks: 1) limited toe protection; 2) not the greatest traction; 3) pebbles get in; 4) feet get dirty. Benefits; 1) very light weight; 2) dry fast; 3) very comfortable; 4) no more broken laces. Works for me on the AT.

  28. I have La Sportiva Raptors. I love these trail runners. It makes no difference whether I’m hiking the trails of Pennsylvania or running errands. They are so comfortable. They are ready for the A.T.

  29. I prefer Keen hikerz. I live in ME right on the AT and i do alot of day trippin in the Bigelows and north toward Caratunk and Monson. For continued comfort AND DRY feet, Keens are the way to go.

  30. I lace up my Merrell Allout Blaze w/Superfeet black insoles before heading the trails of the GSMNP. Terrain varies from dry compact dirt to wet loose rock and the shoe conquers them all. These shoes rock b/c they are lightweight, waterproof and comfortable.

  31. I wear Timberland because that is what my husband bought me. They provide nice support and stay dry . We have hiked easy sandy trails in nj. Have started the AT in jersey so expect much more rugged hiking .

  32. The North Face Ultra FastPack Mid — As the name says, these are fast boots with a hybrid design built to trek quickly for miles or even run long distances on trails. They have running-shoe-like tread and a reasonably light weight at 17 ounces a boot. A thin tongue and lightly cushioned cuff make them fit nicely on the ankle. I have hiked the Kanawha State Forest located in WV several times in these boots…I love them

  33. I rock the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

    These are my first pair of quality hiking boots. I got them because I was planning some multiday trips in the Presidentials and based on my past experience, I wanted extra ankle support for the rocky terrain.

    After breaking them in, I find them to be great. The only problem I had is that the inner sole lining was slightly too short for my foot. It felt like my toe was on a lip in my boot. I had to return a few pairs before I got it right, and even now I notice the problem returning. I’ll probably replace with a more form-fitting inner sole.

    For less strenuous hikes, I will likely switch to a lighter boot or trailrunner to reduce weight.

  34. I know its not the “in thing” anymore on trail but I just prefer hiking in boots over the trail runner type shoes . I know the weight is the major drawback to boots but I think the trade off in traction and support is worth the weight .

  35. I wear a pair of Merrell trail runners for all my local day hikes. They are very comfortable and light. For my backpacking trips I choose to wear my tried and true Asolo 520s. They are built for the backcountry and have proven it time and time again. Did the pemi loop, the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains and Katahdin this year with my 520s without a single complaint to be had about them.

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