When you’re hiking, a high-quality pair of boots is perhaps more integral to your equipment than anything else.
Like any outdoor gear, hiking boots are designed for comfort and protection when you’re out in the wild. The materials are typically tougher than regular shoes or boots, with additional padding and support to prevent slippage. And the outer, or tread, is designed with extra grip in mind for when you’re climbing or descending.
A boot is a boot, but looks can be deceiving — every pair can have major differences in fit, durability, and purpose. The right boot for simple trails isn’t the same footwear you need for tackling mountainous climbs with steep inclines. And, picking the wrong boot for the job could halt you in your tracks or even lead to injury.
As a starting point, we collated the top hiking boots around, taking into account real customer reviews and feedback. Then we narrowed down that list to the top 10 boots, and finally to our three best-in-class pairs of footwear. Thanks to our research, we can say with confidence that we found the best hiking boots for men.
The Hiking Boots for Men We RAVE About
Where are you headed?
All hiking boots aren’t created equal — each pair is designed with a preferred environment in mind. You could be hiking through arid or damp conditions, over flat or rocky surfaces, or on solid or loose terrain. Hiking boots fine-tune characteristics like stiffness, degree of ankle support, and tread to account for such conditions.
You need less support on “easy,” well-traveled paths, so you can use lighter, more flexible boots, or sneaker boots. Over long journeys, you’ll benefit more from greater flexibility, which affords a more natural fit and better comfort. But on harsher trails, lightweight and flexible can translate into excessive wear and tear, or even potential injury.
When you’re hitting steep inclines or declines, or navigating broken and uneven ground, you need more rigidity and support with sturdier ankle cushioning, tougher upper materials, and greater insole padding, as well as a tighter fit around your feet.
Choose the right fit
On the subject of fit, getting it right is absolutely vital. But it comes down to more than just size, which is just an arbitrary number that doesn’t consider the unique traits of your foot from heel to toe. A lack of space in the toe box or too much space in the heel can be crippling.
When you’re traversing slopes, your heels rise and your toes spread inside of your boots. If the fit is wrong, it won’t take long for blisters or chafing to cut your hike short. So think about these limitations, as well as whether the boots come in wide or narrow variations.
Waterproofing vs. breathability
The last thing you want when you’re out on a hike in the middle of nowhere is soaked feet. You won’t have to worry in most cases, as almost all modern hiking boots are lined with waterproof membranes. What you may need to worry about is breathability, as moisture also needs to be able to escape your boots.
Waterproof membranes tend to increase the likelihood of your feet sweating when you’re out on the trail. Pricier materials like Gore-Tex allow moisture to escape your footwear better than cheaper materials with worse breathability, which is why we considered this feature when making our recommendations.
Uppers, outers, and other design choices
Leather hiking boots used to offer the best durability, while being easier to maintain. But the gap between leather and synthetic materials has diminished, far improving the range of choices you have. So whether you favor a leather or synthetic fabric upper, the most important points are fit and durability.
Outside of the upper, you’ve got some other components to watch out for, which can vary in quality. The rubber outsole is designed to offer strong grip on unreliable surfaces, and the midsole provides support. Insoles offer cushioning underfoot to soften the impact of the midsole, and act as a springboard.
Any good review should focus on the opinions of real consumers who have used the products themselves. That’s why we aggregate review scoring from a range of sources to decide which products are best-in-class. Our sources include authority websites, reviews on websites such as Amazon, and other “best of” lists.
We start with a long list of anywhere from 20 to 100 products, before whittling the list down. Our short list of 10 products represents the most frequently mentioned category leaders, which have scored highly across the board. Then, we applied custom criteria to determine the best of the best, as outlined below.
- Fit: Whether your feet are comfortably secured, and whether there are wide or narrow options available.
- Internal support: When you’re traversing uneven surfaces, proper internal and ankle support is essential.
- Waterproofing: Most hiking boots are waterproof, but some are more impervious than others.
- Outsole and tread: Quality, design aesthetics, and tread depth don’t always go hand in hand. But striking a balance is possible.
- Upper material: Though some materials are more attractive than others, they can be less durable. We looked closely at material choice for the upper.
- Liner breathability: Waterproofing can affect breathability. We looked at just how breathable each pair of boots is.
The Best Hiking Boots for Men
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
For hikers tackling tough terrain, strong internal support is absolutely essential. These boots excel in support, thanks in part to the well-cushioned interior materials, which don’t just bolster support, but comfort, too. This grip reduces the propensity for your heels to slip on inclines or declines, or for your toes to become cramped.
Requiring very little break-in time out of the box, they are also exceptional at gripping all types of terrain. Users report strong grip on steep, loose, and rough ground surfaces, as well as on slippery rocks. Out of all our recommendations, the Renegade comes in second place in terms of size range.
If weight on the trail is a concern, bear in mind that these boots weigh in at 19.5 ounces each. We also saw some inconsistent reports of weak eyelet fastenings affecting a select few of the lace holes. And of course the elephant in the room is the price tag, which is higher than many alternatives we listed.
- Excellent ankle support
- Can handle various terrain
- Weak eyelets
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
If you’re looking for boots that are ready to go out of the box, these could be the ticket. With basically no break-in period, they’re lightweight and well-proofed against water ingress from rain, snow, or streams. With elevated ankle support, you’re less likely to swamp these boots in shallow flowing water.
Over mountainous and ever-changing terrain, these boots hold up well, with lacing that keeps everything held together tightly. In fact, these were some of the highest ranking hiking boots we came across for internal support and comfort. But the sizing can be temperamental, and some may struggle to find the perfect fit.
These boots lose some points in our books for lacking wide and narrow fit variations. Also, consider what trails you’ll be hiking, as these boots may be overkill for less intense trails on flat ground.
- Excellent comfort and quality
- Well-padded ankle support
- Sturdy lace locking system
- Stiff out of the box
- No narrow or wide options
- Not for basic trails
Forsake Range High – Men’s Waterproof Leather Approach Sneaker Boot
We’re not saying that all hiking boots are ugly, but there are certainly some that sacrifice form over function. If you absolutely must have a boot that’s both practical and attractive, sneaker boots can scratch that itch. What’s more, with the Forsake brand, you’re supporting a relatively new name in the industry without sacrificing quality.
Being a sneaker boot — a cross between sneakers and hiking boots — the Range High boots are super lightweight, at 16 ounces. So whether you’re traversing roads, fields, or rocky mountains, the outsole and tread can handle it all without being cumbersome. Just be wary that your feet might kick up some sweat due to the waterproof liner inside.
One thing worth bearing in mind is that consistency from one pair to the next can vary. Some customers report minor details like the stitching and glue appearing different between boots, but here at RAVE, we feel that it just adds to the charm of startup companies’ products.
- Practicality meets aesthetics
- Lightweight design
- Startup brand
- Not the most durable
- Variations in construction
- Liner can increase sweat
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
One of the biggest positives for this boot is the comprehensive padded ankle support. General protection is good overall, with a rubber rand over the toe box to protect your digits. These features make the Zodiac a staple choice among hikers tackling challenging trails.
According to reviews, this boot can handle any terrain you throw at it. A well-detailed grip on the outer makes for superior traction on loose ground or steep inclines. Though, keep in mind that some customers say the laces can loosen over time.
Some purchasers report this footwear has a long break-in period when first out of the box. Our main concern with the Zodiac boots is the choice of suede material used to craft the upper. It’s a total dirt magnet, meaning that a single dusty trail hike can be enough to aesthetically age your boots.
- Rubber rand protects toes
- Solid traction on all surfaces
- Excellent ankle support
- Long break-in period
- Suede upper attracts dirt
- Laces loosen quickly
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Unlike their brothers the Salomon Quest boots, the X Ultra boots are malleable with a very tame break-in period. But they share many of the same design choices that provide high-quality internal support. The key factor here is that these are more of a budget option, and some of the cheapest we reviewed.
They’re lightweight and have a quick lacing system that achieves a secure grip. And, they perform on pretty much all types of terrain, in any kind of weather. The Contagrip outsole in particular is praised for its grip on slippery rock surfaces.
The only reason the Ultra X lost ground to our other Salomon option is a lack of underfoot cushioning. Some consumers mention the durability seems to give out more quickly than you might expect, possibly due to price. Additionally, reviewers comment about the relatively narrow profile of the Ultra boots.
- Very little break-in time
- Handles all types of surfaces
- Lots of internal support
- Narrow fit
- Lacks underfoot cushioning
- Less resistant to abrasions
Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof
The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof dominates wet environments, excelling in all three important areas of the design relating to moisture. Purchasers often report that the boot has superior traction on wet, slippery surfaces, with a strong, water-resistant membrane. And what’s more, this boot is reported to be one of the best when it comes to breathability.
The durability isn’t to be sniffed at either: The Merrell Moab 2 is known for being highly resistant to wear and tear. If you’re in a hurry to hit those trails, you’ll be glad to know they’re easy to break in. Once you have worn them in a little, most reviews agree you’ll find they fit like a glove.
These boots do suffer from a common complaint about sizing: They run a half-size small. In most cases, aim for a smaller size than usual to avoid pinching and chafing. Unfortunately, a well-reputed footwear review website also criticized the underfoot support of these boots, though they excel everywhere else.
- Highly breathable
- Resistant to wear and tear
- Grip feet tightly
- Run a half-size small
- Lack underfoot support
- Debris bypasses tongue easily
HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP
In spite of colors that buck the trend of browns, blacks, and grays, these are some good looking hiking boots. And they’re not all form and no function either — they provide impressive traction on both wet and dry terrains. There is plenty of internal space in the toe box too, meaning no squashed toes when you’re scrambling up or down slopes.
As the name suggests, this is another waterproof boot that reviews well for repelling moisture. Once your break in these boots, they also have enough cushioning inside to provide a truly comfortable and snug fit. As far as negatives, the price tag is fairly high, and the European sizing system can be confusing.
Though it’s a small issue, it’s worth mentioning that the colors may be too garish for some hikers. They tend to incorporate bright blues, greens, and yellows, which stand out in stark contrast against the black and brown uppers. But look on the bright side — at least you’ll stand out against the terrain in an emergency!
- Well-designed aesthetics
- Impressive grip
- Plenty of toe space
- On the heavier side
- Colors may be too garish
- Users report wear and tear
Danner Mountain 600 Enduroweave
Of all the boots we reviewed, the Danner Mountain 600 appears most like a sneaker in design. If you want to avoid wearing something unfashionable, this pair of boots could be the answer. The minimalistic design also affords them a light profile, so you won’t be lugging heavy footwear around the trails.
We’d like to tell you that the aesthetics are complemented by excellent comfort and support, and to an extent that’s true. But you’ll have to get over the initial stiffness and break-in period. Once you wear them in, they’re highly flexible and contour to the natural movements of your feet.
The downside is that they’re some of the least waterproof boots we found. The low-rise upper, particularly at the back, allows water to enter more easily. And, some reviewers report that the insole isn’t particularly supportive.
- Attractive sneaker design
- One of the lightest options
- Excellent flexibility
- Stiff out of the box
- Some didn’t like the insole
- Not very waterproof
Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot
Timberland is one of those brands that everybody knows and speaks of favorably, in most cases. The White Ledge boots stay true to Timberland’s reputation, with 100% leather but a very reasonable break-in period. They’re also affordable, which is contradictory to the usual expectation of leather boots.
These hiking boots are a great bang for your buck. Just keep in mind that leather can hold in heat when you’re hiking in hot conditions. Breathability does suffer, and though they offer optimal waterproofing, some customers say they’re slippery on wet rock.
One last point worth mentioning, is the post-hike care routine, which applies to any leather boots. To keep these in good condition, clean and dry them properly after every hike, otherwise your investment will be ruined very quickly.
- 100% genuine leather
- Comfortable out of the box
- Excellent value for money
- Requires post-hike care
- Breathability suffers a bit
- Can be slippery when wet
KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The Keen Targhee II is one of the better waterproof options we’ve seen. Combining leather with rubber, these boots provide generous space in the toe box to account for spread when climbing. The rubber is also non-marking, protecting the boots against scuffs that can prematurely age footwear.
These boots promise an insole that is anatomically engineered to the contours of your foot for better arch support. What’s more, you can remove it to be washed, easily refreshing your boots after a long hike. However, the outsole may be less sturdy, and a few reviewers report it came loose after only moderate use.
If you’re going to buy online, be sure of your sizing, or at least check the returns policy. The Targhee II tends to run a half-size small according to numerous purchasers, so check the fit before breaking them in. Also, watch out for movement in the heel that some reviewers experienced.
- Removable, washable sole
- Wide fit with generous toe box
- Excellent waterproof seal
- Problematic outsole adhesive
- Some issues with heel lock
- Run a half-size small
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Are hiking boots necessary?
We get it — if you’re getting into a new hobby, why should you sink a couple hundred dollars on new boots? There’s always the temptation to make do with the footwear you already have, or cheap out on inexpensive boots. And it may work out, but we guarantee that you’ll lack the support and comfort of the real deal.
A proper pair of purpose-built hiking boots means getting the necessary support for your feet on uneven terrain. Those sneakers you have may be great for pounding the pavement, but they won’t hold up against treacherous terrain. On steep slopes, you’d only be a slip away from a sprained ankle or worse.
The same can be said about the level of comfort offered by your footwear, specific to the unique movements of hiking. Your feet slide horizontally and vertically with constant elevation changes, which can be uncomfortable in the wrong footwear. But hiking boots utilize additional padding, special lacing systems, and other features to ensure proper grip and comfort.
How should hiking boots fit?
When it comes to choosing your hiking boots, don’t just take the numeric size at face value. Pay attention to the length, width, and heel, and how each part of the boot feels. You could have the most comfortable boots in the world, but if the fit’s wrong, you’re going to notice.
Most people have one foot larger than the other, so start with that one, and insert it into the corresponding boot, unlaced. Push your toes into the toe box, and check that you have about one finger’s worth of space behind the heel. Any more or less and you’ll probably want to try a half-size up or down until it feels right.
In terms of width, your feet shouldn’t feel cramped around the toes or the sides, nor slide around. These are signs that you may need a wider or narrower variation. And finally, ensure that your heel doesn’t slide up and down when you’re walking — this is a fast track to blisters.
Do hiking boots need to be broken in?
To get the most out of your boots, spend some time breaking them in gently. Leather isn’t the untamed beast it once was, but you’ll find that more lightweight models are easier to break in. The last thing you should do is try to break in a pair of boots by hiking a long distance in them.
For a foot-friendly way to break in a new pair, try wearing them around the house while they’re still clean. Lace them up and insert the insoles you’ll be using on the trail, ensuring they’re secured snugly. Alternatively, take a walk at a relaxed pace around the block on flat surfaces rather than on any uneven or rocky terrain.
Don’t ignore pinch points, chafing, and pain in general — no amount of breaking in will compensate for poor fit. Though new boots feel stiffer to begin with, they shouldn’t hurt you. If they do, consider using more supportive insoles, or trying a new size altogether.
Should hiking boots be waterproof?
Waterproof designs have come along massively since the early days of hiking, and leather is no longer the only option. Though most modern hiking boots come with waterproof membranes, Gore-Tex or otherwise, they’re not absolutely required. It all comes down to personal preference, as well as the type of hiker you are.
Waterproofing benefits hikers who are always battling adverse weather or ground conditions. Snowy tundra, streams, rivers, or constant rain — they’re all factors that demand a strong waterproof liner. If you want your socks to remain dry and toasty, definitely buy into this feature.
But you’re paying a price — whether or not your boots have a pricey Gore-Tex membrane, or a cheaper lining. Waterproofing always sacrifices some degree of breathability, meaning your feet can get hot and sweaty. You’ll have to choose between the lesser of two evils and decide which problem is likely to bug you more.
What are the best hiking boots for men?
So now you know that a quality pair of hiking boots is essential for any strenuous hikes on testing terrain. Any of the hiking boots we listed here are more than sufficient for the job. For the very best, or something unique from an up-and-coming brand, we picked out three particularly special pairs.
There are several things we looked for in a good pair of hiking boots, and the Lowa Renegade GTX checks every box. They’re well-padded for comfort, provide exceptional ankle support, and can battle through any type of terrain with ease. These are the qualities that earned them the top spot on our list of the best overall hiking boots for men.
Alternatively, if you want to wear something unique that you won’t see frequently on the trail, there’s the Forsake Range High. Though this boot is not the overall winner, it’s a product from a small company that’s doing all the right things. That’s why it gets our accolade for the best new brand hiking boots.
Or, there’s the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX, which are our best internal support hiking boots. They’re the one pair we found that beats the overall winner for internal stability and support. And with a strong lace locking system, there’s no room for movement or chafing.