Whether you’re strolling down a short local trail or questing up a mountain in a National Park, a great pair of hiking boots can protect your feet and ensure you’ve got plenty of traction. But if you live in a wetter climate (like the Pacific Northwest) or hike a good deal in spring and fall, consider waterproofing, too. Even if it’s not actively raining when you’re outside, you might still come across puddles, patches of mud, and the occasional creek. To help you stay comfortable and dry, we tested some of the newest and most innovative waterproof hiking boots on the market. Here are the top performers.

Read quick reviews below of five of the best, then keep scrolling for buying advice and in-depth reviews of these and other great options.

What Makes Them Waterproof?

Unlike with slip-on mud boots, you won’t find any neoprene or rubber-wrapped uppers in waterproof hikers. Instead, today’s models have high-tech membranes with pores or gaps that are too small for liquid to penetrate but large enough for water vapor to pass through. That means water from rain and puddles can’t get in, while evaporating moisture from inside your boot, like sweat, can escape.

Most membranes are made from thin, porous films of plastic polymer like Gore-Tex’s stretched-out polytetrafluoroethylene. It has 9 billion pores per square inch, each 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. While Gore-Tex is in many of the boots we tested, other brands have their own membranes, like Merrell’s M Select Dry and TimberDry from Timberland. Different models have slightly different thicknesses and waterproofing levels, but the constructions are similar. The exception is The North Face’s Futurelight, which debuted last fall. Although it works the same way as other membranes, it’s made by nano-spinning polyurethane into a sheet with gaps instead of pores. The promise is increased breathability, especially in apparel.

In theory, all these membranes are breathable, but a common complaint is that they don’t vent well, which can make for sweaty feet on hot days and during intense hikes. As such, it’s best to buy waterproof boots only if you think you’ll often be walking through cool or wet environments. Prefer to hike on sunny, warm days? Well, then go without the membrane (you’ll save some money in the process).

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Remember, these membranes do their job only up to the cuff of the boot. For that reason, we chose to mostly test mid and tall boots, instead of trail runners. Those low sneakers are better suited for keeping dew out during early morning runs or hiking during the dry season, not for traversing streams and navigating puddles.

How We Tested

We’ve racked up 175-plus miles while testing 14 pairs of waterproof hiking boots in more than half a dozen National Parks and National Forests across the West, state parks throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, and on under-the-radar local trails near our Pennsylvania HQ. That involved strolling along soft mulch paths; running down rocky, rooted singletrack; walking sun-baked, dusty dirt roads; and scrambling up rain-slicked routes. We also stomped through puddles, mud, and streams. Along the way, we paid attention to the traction, breathability, support, and general comfort of each pair.

Back at the Pop Mech office, we weighed the contenders and quantitatively tested their waterproofing by setting them in water up to the top of the forefoot for at least 10 minutes and, in some cases, up to an hour. Nearly all the boots aced the test, emerging completely dry. For the ones that didn’t, we explain what happened below. After all that, these nine boots made the cut.


Merrell Zion Mid Waterproof


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 14.5 oz. | Upper: Mesh and leather | Membrane: M Select Dry

Zion Mid Waterproof
Merrell moosejaw.com

  • Excellent grip
  • Comfortable for all-day use
  • Great styling

  • Not best for heavy loads
  • Runs a tad hot

It’s tough for a hiking boot to look cool, but the Zion manages with its sharp, sneaker-like styling. Though don’t let the appearance fool you—this boot has real outdoor chops. The Vibram Megagrip sole afforded supreme traction, and the supple and flexible molded-EVA midsole kept our feet feeling light, as if we were wearing nothing more than running shoes. We even found ourselves stepping into a light jog while going downhill. Yet the Zion still has the support of a traditional boot: The high cuff lent confidence, even on trails in the Tetons strewn with loose, basketball-size rocks. We did find the Zion a bit hot, especially in the toe box where leather and rubber give increased protection but limit venting. We were willing to overlook it, though, because the boot sloughed off all the water we stomped through. The upper was easy to tie to the perfect tightness, and, even when loose, the gusseted tongue kept trail debris out. But the sneaker-esque construction and forgiving fit of the upper might not be best for heavy loads or weak ankles.

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Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 1 lb. 3.2 oz. | Upper: Full-grain leather | Membrane: TimberDry

Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof

  • No break-in period
  • Affordable price

  • Heavy
  • Tongue is a little narrow

Comfortable right out of the box, the Mt. Maddsen combines day-hiking performance and style at an incredible price. Both in the field and during our waterproofing test, the boot’s TimberDry membrane, which is made with 50 percent PET from recycled water bottles, successfully repelled moisture. The outsole is also made with some recycled material, and the hefty lugs offered good traction on wet, rocky, and steep sections of trail. We loved the look of the full-grain leather upper, which made the boots fit in at casual events. Although the Mt. Maddsen is the heaviest boot of the bunch, we didn’t feel like we had bricks strapped to our feet thanks to the spongy EVA midsole. The TPU shank lent support, but for rocky trails or backpacking trips, you’ll want a boot with a stiffer ankle. We also noticed the tongue is slightly narrow. In order for it to lay underneath the ankle cuff, we had to continuously adjust it as we laced up. Luckily, if you don’t get it just right, the gusseted design will keep debris out.

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Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 1 lb. 0.7 oz. | Upper: Synthetic leather and mesh | Membrane: Gore-Tex

Maverick Mid GTX
Scarpa backcountry.com

  • Large toe cap
  • Supportive and grippy
  • Easy to put on and take off

  • Prone to overheating
  • Insole has sparse padding

The new Maverick is sturdy like a trekking boot with the build of a day hiker. Scarpa’s proprietary Crossover outsole lent great traction no matter what we encountered. On one outing, just after a heavy downpour, we stayed upright as the rubber gripped slick rocks and moss and navigated through several puddles and two creek crossings. There was plenty of ankle support for traversing rocky terrain and preventing fatigue while we carried a heavy backpack. We also loved the large toe cap, which saved us from minor injury more than once. The mid-height cuff and synthetic upper keep weight off and made it easier to get our foot into and out of the boot. It helps that the tongue gussets have a decent amount of fabric, so we could pull the tongue way back. On longer hikes, we did notice the sole felt a bit stiff, especially at the ball of the foot, but wearing more cushioned hiking socks helped. Our biggest complaint, then, was the Maverick’s tendency to overheat, especially in the first few miles of a hike. When you’re trekking, be sure to have a backup pair of socks, because the ones you’re wearing could be drenched in sweat by the end of the day.

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Danner Trail 2650 Mid GTX


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 14 oz. | Upper: Suede and textile | Membrane: Gore-Tex

Trail 2650 Mid GTX, $179.95
Danner backcountry.com

  • Locks the heel in place
  • Great grip

  • Relatively low top isn’t great for heavy loads
  • Minimal arch support

When you slip your foot into the Danner 2650, make sure you’re comfortable, because as soon as the laces are tied, your foot’s not going to slide around in there. And we mean that in a good way. The security starts with Danner’s odd-looking EXO Heel system—a patch of exterior rubber that appears to be a random piece of plastic slapped on the back of the boot as an afterthought. But it helps cup and cradle your heel, locking it in place. And since it’s on the outside of the boot, you won’t feel any rubbing or discomfort from the hefty construction. The superb fit continues with the laces—at each individual eyelet, we could pull to our desired tightness and the lace would stay in place, even if eyelets next to each other were cinched more or less tightly. That’s thanks to the wavy, textured lace, which also stayed knotted better than those on the other boots. The thin upper around the ankle didn’t dig into our skin, though you may want more support if you’re carrying a heavier load. The Vibram Megagrip outsole grips and flexes well without being soft—we slipped only once on a 45-degree hill covered in loose, dry gravel. A near winner for best overall boot, the Trail 2650 also managed temperature well thanks to perforated vents in the leather. But we found the boot lacking in arch support, making for some sore feet after a 12-mile day.

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La Sportiva Pyramid GTX


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 8.3 oz. | Upper: Nubuck leather | Membrane: Gore-Tex Surround

Pyramid GTX
La Sportiva moosejaw.com

  • Supremely light
  • Ventilates and grips well

  • Stiff upper
  • Have to pull laces extremely hard to tighten enough
  • Expensive

The Pyramid GTX is a supremely capable shoe, mixing traditional styling with modern construction. The nubuck leather upper is durable but incorporates nano cell mesh and channels within the boot’s Gore-Tex Surround membrane to get air to your foot while maintaining waterproofing. That temperature management is effective, and our feet were comfortable even on warm days. The Vibram XS Trek outsole provided great grip, even as we hiked up dry, loose, rocky trails in the National Forests of Montana. And the La Sportiva Impact Brake system—a set of grooves running across the width of the heel—bit into the ground and increased stopping power so we could stride downhill without losing our footing. We especially love how the eyelets are built right into the leather upper, which prevents the lace loop of one boot catching on an eyelet of the other as you step. Our one hang-up: The upper was a bit stiff, requiring us to tie the boots up tighter than we’d prefer in order to prevent dirt and pebbles from finding their way in.

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The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 1 lb. 0.4 oz. | Upper: Mesh | Membrane: Futurelight

Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight, $159.95
The North Face backcountry.com

  • Excellent traction
  • Breathable
  • Sneaker-like fit

  • Slightly narrow
  • Less supportive on longer days and with heavy loads

The Fastpack IV is a great choice if you’re willing to trade extra support for less weight. Just north of a pound, the boot felt closer to a trail running shoe than some others. The fit is true-to-size but slightly narrow, so if you have wider feet, consider going up half a size. Performance-wise, it proved just very capable. On steep scrambles in the Adirondacks, our tester felt very confident in the traction afforded by the Vibram Megagrip sole. A large rubber toe cap adds protection to the mesh upper, and the Futurelight membrane, lauded for its breathability, delivered just that. We stayed cool—and dry—all day. By the end of a 12-mile hike on a rocky, uneven trail, we found ourselves wanting a bit more support than the Fastpack offered, so it’s best to stick to shorter paths and avoid carrying heavy loads.

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Ecco Exohike Mid GTX


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 1 lb. 1.5 oz. | Upper: DriTan leather | Membrane: Gore-Tex

Exohike Mid GTX
Ecco zappos.com

  • Comfortable upper needs no break-in time
  • Breathable
  • Nice neutral styling

  • Expensive
  • Footbed could have more padding

Right out of the box, the upper on the new Exohike was soft and malleable, and it formed to our foot snugly without any pinching or need to stretch parts out. We’re not used to seeing that in a leather boot, but then again, DriTan isn’t ordinary leather. Ecco spent five years developing a tanning process that uses far less water and chemicals than the norm and has been scaling up its application since the initial 2018 release. Despite all the leather, the sock-like tongue and cuff (available only in the women’s model) increased breathability, though we noticed some gapping around the ankle that let a modest amount of debris in on the trail. The cuff is also a bit short for a mid-height boot (the men’s model is taller), but we didn’t mind. The Exohike felt more at home off the trail because of it. The neutral color palette helped, too. We found a good amount of stability in the ankle, thanks to the external heel cup, but we wished the footbed had a little more cushion. The polyurethane midsole isn’t as soft as EVA, but it will last longer. An insert or a thickly padded pair of hiking socks should help, though. The Exohike is pricey but worth investing in for a versatile, durable workhorse.

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Garmont G-Trail GTX


Height: Mid | Weight per boot: 1 lb. 1 oz. | Upper: Suede | Membrane: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort

G-Trail GTX
Garmont ems.com

  • Quick laces stayed secure
  • Flexible but protective upper
  • Good traction

  • Pricey
  • Waterproofing isn’t as solid as some

Sometimes protection comes at the expense of comfort, but Garmont avoids that in the new G-Trail. It’s a supportive, stable boot that provided good traction on wet leaves, moss, slippery rocks, and uneven terrain but didn’t feel oppressive. The suede upper is more flexible than full-grain leather, and combined with the higher volume fit, the boot didn’t require a break-in period. We dialed in the fit easily with the quick laces, tucking the excess securely into the toe strap. That kept the laces tight for the duration of our hikes, so we avoided taking any pace-killing stops to readjust. Designed for warmer weather, the Extended Comfort membrane is incorporated into the boot’s upper, rather than layered between other materials. The thinner construction prevented overheating, even on a muggy 90-degree day. The waterproofing held up as we stepped through puddles and very damp grass, but by the end of our hour-long test, both boots had some water inside. Still, in moderately wet conditions, the G-Trail is plenty capable.

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Merrell MQM Flex 2 Gore-Tex


Height: Low | Weight per boot: 10.9 oz. | Upper: Mesh | Membrane: Gore-Tex Invisible Fit

MQM Flex 2 Gore-Tex
Merrell rei.com

  • Very breathable upper
  • Versatile

  • Low cuff isn’t best for wet or highly technical trails

For light, fast, and not too strenuous missions, choose the MQM, which stands for “Moving Quickly through the Mountains.” Accordingly, the shoe excels as a light-duty hiker and can even pull double duty as a trail runner. Merrell prioritizes comfort with a forgiving mesh upper that feels just like a sneaker’s, with a spacious toe box and a secure fit through the arch. The upper was one of the most breathable in our test, too. We never felt even slightly warm despite humid and hot conditions. Nothing about the fit or feel hints at its waterproof capabilities, but that’s the goal of Gore-Tex’s Invisible Fit membrane, which is bonded directly to the upper instead of added as a separate bootie. It successfully kept our foot dry in the face of morning dew, small puddles, and tame creeks, though the right boot was damp inside after our one-hour waterproofing test. And like any low-cut hiking shoe, you run the risk of water and mud sneaking in through the cuff. On the trail, we had a few unpleasant bootfuls of muck when we were a bit careless about our foot placement. So if you plan on mostly or exclusively hiking in wet environments, the mid-height model (which also lends more ankle stability for rocky and technical trails) is likely a better fit.

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