Picking a hiking shoe is a lot like picking a life partner. It’s a deeply personal decision that requires foresight, patience, and sometimes, a breaking in period. We asked some of our favorite hiking guides to dish on the shoes and boots that they’ve fallen in love with over the years. Here are their favorite hiking kicks, in their own words.
La Sportiva Boulder X ($110)
If I'm carrying less than 40 pounds, this is my go-to shoe. They are comfortable, stable, and durable. The laces go all the way down to the toes so it's easy to fine-tune the fit and the Vibram outsole grips equally well to wet and dry surfaces. I’m currently on my fifth pair.
Asolo Agent GV ($185)
I found these boots after guiding for 25 years and I'm really impressed. Hiking on the often rainy East Coast I appreciate the Gore-Tex-lined upper and the low cut keeps the weight down. They’re pricey but worth it. Most boots lose their waterproofness after a season but I've used these for two full seasons and they still keep me dry.
Five Ten Canyoneer 3 ($125)
I guide a lot of canyoneering trips and the Canyoneer has become my go-to boot. The Stealth Rubber on the sole provides superior grip on sandstone and wet granite. The offset laces are extra high on the boot to provide extra support when hiking through the water.
Columbia Montrail Trans Alps II ($130)
Because I do most of my hiking in the Southwest, I prefer to wear a lightweight shoe that’s really breathable. The Montrail has a lightweight upper and a sturdy sole. I'll even wear it when carrying 70-pound packs, but if you’re looking for something with more support, I recommend the Merrell Moab Ventilator. It is a little sturdier than a trail runner, with a stiffer sole, and great traction. It also has a slightly wider toe box, which is helpful when your feet start to swell after a few days on the trail.
—Dave Logan, owner and head guide for Four Seasons Guides
La Sportiva TX4 Mid GTX ($190)
These are more comfortable out of the box than any other boots I've used. I prefer over the ankle protection when hiking in snow and for keeping scree out. It has a Gore-Tex layer so it stays dry unless you are knee deep in a stream. The sole is a perfect blend of bigger lugs for dirt and mud and dot rubber under the toes for scrambling. I've found these boots to be very versatile and I've used them on multiday hikes with an overnight pack or technical 14,000-foot peak ascents. The rubber is so sticky, that I have even taken them pure rock guiding up to a 5.8 grade.
—Amos Whiting, owner and lead guide for Aspen Expeditions