(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Hiking Shoes of 2020

Kicks to keep feet fresh no matter what your mileage


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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.

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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

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

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