When you need to breathe in the smell of dirt and trees, or just walk without having to wait for cars, hiking is an easy, convenient, and relaxing way to detox from the rest of your life. Find the nearest mountain, hill, lake, state park, or local trail. That’s the great thing about hiking, you can do it just about anywhere. The only things you need are some water, maybe food, and definitely a great pair of hiking boots or trail shoes.

If you haven’t looked at boots recently, you’ll be surprised at how good they’ve gotten. Made with rugged yet breathable fabrics, with insoles that are as comfortable as the best running shoes, and waterproofing (on some models) that actually keeps your feet dry. Plus, they weigh a fraction of what those old-timey dirt-busting hiking boots did just a few years ago.

Read quick reviews of our top five hiking boots below, or scroll down for more options and full details on each model. Your feet will thank you.

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Trail Running Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

The first thing to consider when you’re buying hiking-focused footwear is what kind of activity you want to do. In some cases, going for a lightweight, low-cut trail runner might be a better option than a traditional hiking boot. Most hiking boots are going to give you a firm, grippy, sole with a lot of ankle support and a stable base. The layers of leather and rubber will also protect your feet from banging into rocks, roots, or whatever you encounter.

With all of this protection and support though, comes weight. These kind of boots are great for longer hikes, on rougher terrain, especially if you are carrying any sizeable load.

Alternatively, trail runners offer a lightweight, low-cut alternative. Often made of mesh and synthetics, you’ll get a a flexible foot bed and a spring step. But this often comes at the cost of ankle support and protection for your toes. If you’ll be hiking in rocky uneven terrain, prepare to be choosing steps carefully, but if you’ll be out for a shorter period, on a more relaxed terrain, and/0r running, you can move quickly without carrying any unnecessary weight.

To Waterproof or Not to Waterproof?

Many brands will tout a waterproof membrane in their boots or shoes, often it is Gore-Tex or a similar in-house material. And while having waterproof footwear sounds like a no-brainer, there is an argument to be made against the choice.

Gore-tex and similar waterproofing membranes are great if you live and hike in generally damp areas. If you’ll be walking through a lot of puddles, mud, morning dew, or any other environmental dampness, a waterproof membrane is a great choice. Though it won’t help you for moisture that comes over the top of the boot, like rain, or a particularly deep puddle.

What you do lose with these membranes though is some level of breathability. Your feet will sweat a bit more when wearing shoes or boots with this sort of membrane layer. In addition, boots and shoes with a waterproof membrane often take longer to dry out if they’re compromised.

Because of this, if you are in a generally dry area, only hike in the nice weather, or need something that will dry out quickly if it does get wet (think long distance hiking where you need your boots dry every morning no matter what), well then going without a waterproof membrane might be the move for you. While your feet will run the risk of getting wet from outside forces, they’ll stay dry from within.

How We Rated Them

We researched 18 expert sources and 3,000 consumer reviews to select the top 10 hiking boots and shoes for 2019. To determine our Total Expert Score, we calculated the ratings from expert review sites, such as Outdoor Gear Lab, Mountain IQ, Gear We Are, and Wirecutter, and converted them to a 100-point scale to make it easier for you to weigh the best options. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of consumers who rated the product at least 4 out of 5 stars on retail sites like Amazon, REI, Zappos, and Backcountry.

Best Overall: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

Total Expert Score: 94/100 | Consumer Score: 87% give it 4 stars or higher
Salomon packs comfort, support, and protection into the best backpacking or hiking boot.

Height: High | Weight: 22.6 oz (M), 20.3 oz (W) | Upper: Textile | Waterproof: Yes

Quest 4D 3 GTX®
SALOMON campsaver.com
Women's Quest 4D 3 GTX

Whether you’re backpacking or hiking, you’re going to enjoy the tall ankle height and support that comes with these midweight boots, even if that comes at the cost of a few extra ounces.

The long and short of it is, everyone loves this boot. It appeared on 11 out of 18 expert lists for best hiking boots, and it’s the No. 1 choice of Mountain IQ, Switchback Travel, and Wirecutter.

Both experts and users enjoyed the stability of the Contragrip sole, and the support of the ankle collar that comes up to an impressive 6.5 inches—no hobbling here. Plus, they’re waterproof, a big plus for anyone who frequently hikes in wet conditions.

Best Value: Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid

Total Expert Score: 80/100 | Consumer Score: 91% give it 4 stars or higher
A hiking boot for warmer, sunny days that’s lighter on your feet and your wallet.

Height: Mid | Weight: 17 oz (M), 15 oz (W) | Upper: Suede leather and mesh | Waterproof: No

Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid
Merrell dickssportinggoods.com

Women's Moab 2 Vent Mid

This boot is designed to be a lightweight summer hiker for hot days. As such, its mesh construction is not water-resistant (though if you want waterproofing, Merrell sells a version with it).

Costing about half as much as many other hiking boots, the Moab is popular on Amazon, garnering an average 4.5 stars from over 500 Amazon reviews, and that popularity continues with the experts—12 out of 18 expert sources commended the Moab 2 as one of the best lightweight hiking boots.

For a light summer hike, at a price that will give you gas money to get to the trail head, you can’t go wrong with the Moab.

Best Backpacking Boot: Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX

Total Expert Score: 89/100 | Consumer Score: 78% give it 4 stars or higher
A stable boot for serious off-trail backpacking—no matter the weather.

Height: High | Weight: 19.2 oz (M), 16 oz (W) | Upper: Suede Perwanger | Waterproof:Yes

Zodiac Plus GTX
Scarpa campsaver.com

Women's Zodiac Plus GTX

This is a serious, heavy-duty backpacking boot, and yet it still comes in light and well-ventilated—but its great for more than hiking. According to Gear Patrol, many mountain climbers recommend it as a good mountaineering boot at higher altitudes.

But, if you're just a casual hiker, this might not be the best move. Wirecutter said “these boots are a good fit for hikers who a plan to tackle challenging terrains often, but most people won’t find their extra stability or foot protection necessary.”

But if you need boots for all weather and conditions, this is a great choice.

Best Hiking Shoe: Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX

Total Expert Score: 93/100 | Consumer Score: 75% give it 4 stars or higher
Salomon’s hiking shoe will put a spring in your step in wet weather or rough descents.

Height: Low | Weight: 13.4 oz (M), 11.6 oz (W) | Upper: Textile, Synthetic Leather | Waterproof: Yes

X Ultra 3 GTX
Salomon zappos.com
Women's X Ultra 3 GTX

If you don’t want an over-the-ankle boot nor the squishiness of a trail runner, this option is a good compromise. It’s stable, protective, cushioned, comfortable, and Switchback Travel ranks the X Ultra 3 GTX as the No. 1 lightweight hiking shoe of the year, recommending it “for day hikes, quick summits, and even lightweight backpacking.”

These should still be good for a wide variety of uses, but beware of their smaller sizing before ordering. One REI reviewer concludes that these shoes are best for short hikes as they “rubbed and created hot spots on the inside of my heels” on long hikes.

Best Trail Runner: Altra Lone Peak 4

Total Expert Score: 90/100 | Consumer Score: 88% give it 4 stars or higher
A running shoe for trail runners or fast hikers with cushion, traction, and a wide toe box.

Height: Low/mid | Weight: 10.7 oz (M), 8.7 oz (W) | Upper Material: Mesh | Waterproof: Yes

Altra Lone Peak 4
Altra Footwear
Women's Lone Peak 4

This is a shoe that works great for trail running and hiking. Your feet will be protected by the thick, well-cushioned midsole and protective toe cap. This shoe also has killer grip that can hold up to the big boys of hiking boots, and the spacious toe box gives room for your feet to move and avoid swelling at the end of a long hike.

Trail runners and hikers both love the Lone Peak for many of the same reasons, including the thick, cushioned midsole and a protective toe cap. The grippy tread can rival any hiking boot, but one of its biggest acclaims is its comfort from the spacious toe box.

One Amazon reviewer wrote that even on rocky terrains, “they just make me very confident. Every step feels solid.” And with the trial runner design, you'll be connected to the trail and feel it underfoot. You can also get the shoe in a mid-cut size that more closely resembles a boot.

Other great options:

Keen Targhee II GTX

Total Expert Score: 82/100 | Consumer Score: 84% give it 4 stars or higher
An affordable backpacking boot that’s lightweight and supportive.

Height: Mid | Weight: 17.4 oz (M), 14.2 oz (W) | Upper: Nubuck leather | Waterproof: Yes

KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof
Women's Targhee II Mid GTX

Though you might know Keen from its sandals, the support and protection of these boots will convince you the brand is ready for more.

These are a great option for casual hikers, especially those with wider feet. They even ended up on 12 out of 18 experts’ best-hiking-boot lists. Digital Trends wrote that it “truly packs a lot of value into its small price tag” with a waterproof and breathable eVent insert, supportive mid-cut height, and a dual-density compression-molded midsole.”

Some Amazon reviews had some concerns about long-term durability, so take that into consideration when you’re shopping. If you put in a ton of miles every year, there may be better options. But for casual use, these could be a solid option—the boots still average 4.3 stars over 2,ooo reviews.

Lowa Renegade Mid GTX

Total Expert Score: 83/100 | Consumer Score: 83% give it 4 stars or higher
A three-season hiking boot available in many colors and size options for a customized fit.

Height: Mid | Weight: 19.5 oz (M), 15.4 oz (W) | Upper: Nubuck leather | Waterproof: Yes

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Lowa moosejaw.com

Women's Renegade GTX Mid

Sizing options make the Renegade a popular boot—it comes in regular, narrow, and wide versions. You’re also going to get good support, cushioning, water resistance and breathability. Plus, the more forgiving upper requires a minimal break-in period, so you can purchase then during the week and be hiking toward camp over the weekend.

REI awarded it the best long-distance boot for women. One REI staffer wrote, “The PU sole works great to absorb shock, and supports your foot for a long day hike or backpacking trip in any weather. I broke mine in on the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. Even straight up all those wet stairs, I felt secure, with no blisters.”

La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX

Total Expert Score: 76/100 | Consumer Score: 70% give it 4 stars or higher
A high-cut backpacking boot that will keep your toes warm and dry.

Height: High | Weight: 20.2 oz (M), 16.2 oz (W) | Upper: Polyester mesh | Waterproof: Yes

La Sportiva
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX
La Sportiva
La Sportiva
Women's Trango TRK GTX

This is a great flexible boot for hiking, backpacking and mountaineering. Wirecutter ranks it the second-best option after the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX, writing: “The Trango boots are breathable and waterproof, which makes them great for creek-laden hikes during the summer months. They’re crampon compatible, too, so you can hike in them through every season.”

An REI staffer recommended these boots for long hikes or weekend backpacking trips. And the expert sources we researched and consumer reviews mostly agree: The hiking boots will stand up to rugged trails, snow, and the cold.

Women’s Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP

Total Expert Score: 87/100 | Consumer Score: 82% give it 4 stars or higher
Turn heads while passing others on the trail with this colorful, cushioned boot.

Height: High | Weight: 17 oz (M), 14.7 oz (W) | Upper: Leather and textile | Waterproof: Yes

Tor Ultra Hi WP
Hoka One One
Hoka One One
Men's Tor Ultra Hi 2 Waterproof

Hoka may be known for its ultra-plush running shoes, but it brings that same style and comfort to this hiking boot. Outdoor Gear Lab chose it as the brand’s top pick for a lightweight hiker. One reviewer wrote, “with the comfort of a trail-running shoe and the stability and traction of a boot with twice its weight, these boots were constantly inspiring.”

The boot’s weight and water resistance has sparked some debate. Some reviewers had few issues, but others wrote that it felt heavier than some similar models. And a few testers wished the boot had more robust waterproofing. But that extra weight gets you one of hte most comfortable boots around. If you struggle with foot pain (or just want to feel like you’re walking on clouds), this might be the answer. One Zappos buyer said, “I own Hoka running shoes so I took a chance on these. They’re extremely comfortable and well-supported. After a full day on the trail no blisters or sore spots.”

Salomon Ultra Pro

Total Expert Score: 83/100 | Consumer Score: 87% give it 4 stars or higher
Another Salomon shoe that boasts all-terrain traction and lightweight comfort for ultrarunners.

Height: Low | Weight: 10.9 oz (M), 9.6 oz (W) | Upper: 3D stretch air mesh | Waterproof: No

Salomon Ultra Pro
Women's Ultra Pro

Runner’s World gave this shoe its Editor’s Choice award for the best running shoes of the year. The testers noted the great traction, even on slippery surfaces, and that the cushioning meant running all day comfortably with support. “The Ultra Pro is one of the best all-terrain trail shoes I have worn,” said one.

And if you aren’t going to be running 50+ miles of trail in a single go, these shoes are still great for outdoor activities. One Zappos reviewer said, “They are super comfortable and just hug my feet. The lace system is super fast and easy.”