The 15 Best Men's Hiking Boots for Any Kind of Terrain
·10 min read
Just like you’d never go off-roading with bald tires, hiking in casual sneakers is a recipe for disaster. Respect the complexity of the trail by wearing one of the best men's hiking boots.
While the shopping criteria for everyday footwear revolve around style and comfort, hiking boots are all about functionality. Whether you’re trekking across a rugged trail, sloshing through mud puddles, or trudging through the snow, a good pair of hiking boots can make the difference between downright misery or memorable Type II fun.
How to Shop for Men's Hiking Boots
To find the best men's hiking boots for your feet and anticipated adventures, it's best to compare models by focusing on a few key features commonly found on hiking boots.
Outsoles: A good hiking boot starts with a durable, high-traction outsole, which allows you to traverse off-pavement terrain with confidence. You’ll notice many boots feature outsoles by Vibram, an industry leader in rubber outsole design. Outsoles should also have lugs, or small protrusions, that dig into dirt so you can get traction.
Midsoles: While the outsole is all about traction, comfort and support happen in the midsole. Midsoles are typically made from either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane (PU). EVA is a lightweight, high-cushioning option that requires little break-in time, but, unfortunately, it packs down and loses its cushioning more quickly than PU. On the other hand, PU is a firmer and heavier material that takes longer to break in but will last longer than EVA-based midsoles. The best hiking boot option for you comes down to a matter of personal preference and whether you prefer maximum cushioning or better durability.
Insoles: The insole or footbed is the layer of cushion that directly touches your foot. Insoles are commonly made from an EVA foam to soften the ride and provide maximum cushion. However, you can also find insoles made from other materials including fiberboard, nylon, or even leather. Lastly, insoles can typically be removed and replaced with an aftermarket insole or orthotic better tailored to various needs, like enhanced arch support or increased cushioning.
Uppers: While much attention is paid to what’s beneath your feet, the upper is just as important—especially if you’re hiking in extreme temperatures. Most men's hiking boots will have suede or leather uppers, many of which are treated with a DWR coating to fight moisture. Ideally, you’ll also find a boot with an upper that has a breathable and water-resistant lining (Gore-Tex waterproof membranes are one example). However, the most important factor to consider is what season you’ll be hiking in.
Cold-weather hiking requires that you find an insulated upper that will keep your feet warm. Insulation is measured in ratings of 100, 200, 400, 600, and 800 grams (referring to the weight of insulation used in the boot). Most people opt for moderately insulated boots in the range of 200 or 400 grams. For example, a 200-gram boot is rated for temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while a 400-gram boot is designed for 15 to 30 degrees. On the extreme end, 800 grams is meant for hiking in temperatures down to -20 degrees.
For those who prefer warm-weather hiking, you’ll need an upper design from the other end of the spectrum. An insulated upper in hot weather would cause your feet to sweat and create nasty blisters. Instead, opt for a breathable mesh upper to keep your feet cool when the temperature heats up.
To help you find the best hiking boots for your budget and trail conditions, we’ve scouted the best men's hiking boots to buy online from top brands like Salomon, Vasque, Danner, Merrell, and more.