(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Hiking Shoes of 2020

Kicks to keep feet fresh no matter what your mileage


Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Salewa MTN Trainer Lite Mid GTX ($200)

(Courtesy Salewa)

Finally, a hiking boot that does it all. With true-to-size fit and a lightweight suede and mesh build that requires zero break-in, the MTN Trainer Lite Mid is at home on mellow hikes. At the same time, the supportive cuff ­and ­­semi-stiff sole excel on steep, rocky climbs and descents, with an aggressively lugged outsole that grips everything from kitty-litter scree to wet boulders. A rubber rand around the base of the upper boosts durability, while the supportive, cushioned footbed reduces fatigue. Salewa’s trademark heel-pocket design locks you in to avoid blisters. Yes, they’re expensive, but the years of use you’ll get out of them makes the investment a smart one. 19.4 oz (men’s) / 16.4 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

Merrell Altalight Knit Mid ($190)

(Courtesy Merrell)

Best Fast-and-Light Hiker

The lightest backpacking boot in Merrell’s nearly 40-year history is also one of the most stable and comfortable we tested. Credit the soft, shock-absorbing EVA heel ­cushioning and the flexible midsole plate, which ­protected us from rocks without impeding our stride. Top-notch fit comes courtesy of a stretchy tongue that mini­mizes pressure points and a stripped-down TPU exoskeleton that wraps around the ankle, heel, and instep to lock you in. The Vibram ­Megagrip sole handled slick rocks, loose gravel, and mud with ease. 14.8 oz (men’s) / 12.4 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

The North Face Activist Mid Futurelight ($145)

(Courtesy The North Face)

Best for Wet Weather

Off-trail mushroom scavenging, fall brush clearing, and a rainy walk up Vermont’s Mount Mansfield were perfect testing grounds for these hikers, which balance the comfort of a low-cut shoe and the protection of a full boot with clean aesthetics. The waterproof-­breathable Futurelight fabric ensured our feet stayed dry through sweat, puddles, and mud, while the single-density EVA midsole lent an energetic feel. Half-hexagon lugs helped us stay rubber-side down on all terrain. 13.8 oz (men’s) / 11.4 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

Sponsor Content
Merrell Moab ($135–on sale during Merrell May through June 3rd at $107.99)

The Merrell Moab hiking boot has been the world’s best-selling hiking boot for over a decade. More than 20 million people have trusted it to be there for everything from grueling summits to local parks. These versatile, all-weather, best-selling boots are ready to hit the trail as soon as you are.

Buy Now

Aku Trekker Pro GTX ($250)

(Coutesy Aku)

Best for Backpacking

Think of these handmade European boots as insurance for your feet and ankles. The suede and Cordura upper provides ­plenty of lateral support when carrying a heavy pack and makes the Trekker Pro great for bushwhacking. For a boot with a fairly stiff sole, our tester found it surprisingly comfortable from first wear. Credit the anatomical mid- and outsole, fine-tuned for support and shock-absorption on heel strikes and for extra cushion and ground contact at toe-off. 1.5 lbs (men’s) / 1.2 lbs (women’s)

Men's Women's

Ecco Exohike Mid GTX ($200)

(Courtesy Ecco)

Best for Street and Trail

Just because a hiking boot is designed for resilience doesn’t mean it has to be uncom­fortable. The mid-cut Gore-Tex Exohike pairs an aggressively lugged Michelin rubber outsole with a soft midsole that yields con­fidence when leaping from rock to rock. A hefty rubber overlay at the heel adds stability, while a knit cuff avoids the stiff feeling of an ­ankle-high boot. Bonus: Ecco’s DriTan leather uses a fraction of the water and chemicals required by other treatment processes. 1.4 lbs (men’s) / 14.2 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

Oboz Arete Low ($125)

(Courtesy Oboz)

Best Low Hiker

With TPU stabilizers that are thicker in the heel than at the midfoot, the Arete Low boasts impressive stability without compromising flex. The result is a rebounding sensation that eases foot fatigue on long hikes. We were big fans of the breathable mesh upper: it was great on hot days, but thanks to TPU overlays, it still provided a surprising amount of lateral support. One tester thought the Arete Low’s insoles were the most supportive of any hiking shoe in our test. 13.6 oz (men’s) / 10.6 oz (women’s)

Men's Women's

Salomon Vaya Mid GTX ($160)

(Courtesy Salomon)

Best for Women

Every aspect of Salomon’s first ­women-specific boot is designed to fit ladies’ feet perfectly: a narrow heel and wide forefoot, a stretchy upper for high insteps, and a soft collar that minimizes ­pressure on pronounced ankle bones. The Vaya Mid is made for long days, with a springy, ­shock-absorbing midsole that tempered trail fatigue and a sturdy mesh outer that ­withstood ­boulder-field ­scrambles. The outsole, made from durable, sticky rubber with a low-­profile tread, held fast even on wet terrain. Right out of the box, they had us bagging a couple of Adirondack peaks in comfort. 12 oz

Buy Now

From Summer 2020 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

promo logo