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Hiking season's afoot, so I tried on 8 pairs of men's hiking boots — here are my top choices

Updated ·6 min read
Looking for a gift the man in your life will love? You can't go wrong with hiking boots. (Photo: Getty Images)
Looking for a gift the man in your life will love? You can't go wrong with hiking boots. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hiking strikes a perfect balance between being outdoors and being safely distanced. Lucky for us, we’re living in a golden age of hiking boots, as I learned recently when I had to find a new pair. There are a ridiculous array of options, catering to distance, terrain, weather and weight criteria, among many others. I’ve tried to present a fair amount of variety within the following eight options — American-made and imported, thrifty and pricey, old-school and cutting-edge, nondescript and downright pretty. I’ve also indicated which models are available in wide and narrow sizes, for those with more quirkily shaped dogs.

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Below, here are my picks for the best men's hiking boots.

Merrell

Men's Moab 2 Mid Gtx Hiking Boot

Merrell
$84 $165 at Amazon

Got a family of hikers? With prices as low as $76, we say the Moab the merrier! (Photo: Amazon)

Try to find a “best hiking boots” list that doesn’t include these babies. Go ahead — we’ll wait. See? That’s because they are, indeed, widely and deservedly celebrated: out-of-the-box comfy, waterproof, and yet somehow they breathe. Reader, I bought them, opting for the warm Earth tone, but there are six other colors to choose from, some which can be had for as little as $76! (Oh, and right now, the women's variety is on sale for as low as $130 —that's $35 off!)

Need a second opinion? "If you're considering these, don't hesitate," said one happy trekker. "These look even better in person and live up to their reputation."

Asolo Falcon GV in black and blue. (Photo: Zappos)
This pair may be black and blue, but your feet will emerge from the most challenging of treks bruise-free. (Photo: Zappos)

Falcon GV

Asolo
$260 at Zappos

TIf you’ve got the scarole, go ahead and splurge on these Italian beauties. They’ve got full-grain leather uppers, a back-tapered ankle collar, and weigh in at under two pounds.

Falcons have got full-grain leather uppers, a back-tapered ankle collar, and weigh in at under two pounds. As for performance, one reviewer said, “The day after receiving these I left for a 60-mile trip on the Appalachian Trail and these performed perfectly. It poured rain the first two days, and my feet stayed dry as a bone. Support and traction were great. Even with no break-in they were quite comfortable, with no blisters.” Bona, but if I’m being honest, it’s mostly about the look.

TR GTX

Arc-teryx
$250 at Zappos

Another pricey-yet-gorgeous option, the Acruz TR GTX (that “GTX” means the use of breathable-yet-waterproof Gore-Tex) is streamlined to the point of looking almost demure, but don’t let that fool you.

As this reviewer testifies, these TRs deliver on rocky, icy terrains: “Decided to risk them untried on a 17-mile hike on steep and rocky trails in the Tahoe/Desolation Wilderness. These performed great — good insulation from the rocks, and felt as light as trail runners. Not a single hot spot at the end of the day either.” Available only in elegant, hipster-friendly all-black.

KEEN

Targhee III Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boot

Keen
$136 $175 at Amazon

We're not too Keen on paying a fortune for a solid pair of hikers. That's where these come in. How's $65 off sound?

You don’t need me to sing the praises of this well-established brand; the web is lousy with glowing testimonials (check their hiking sandals too). The Targhee is their sturdy, no-nonsense standard-bearer. "Love 'em," says a five-star reviewer. "Lightweight and super comfy. I’ve tried a LOT of different boot brands for work and some are good but Keen has always been my favorite. High quality and comfort." Weighing in at a sprightly 2 pounds, 2.8 ounces, available in six colors and wide sizes (though I’ve heard the Targhee II is an even roomier option for us Bigfoots), this is a solid choice.

X Ultra Pioneer

Salomon
$150 at Zappos

Consider this a less-is-more option: an eminently affordable model from Salomon, a manufacturer whose boots usually sell at a premium.

Take it from this five-star reviewer: "Wanted a waterproof and comfortable hiking boot and these fit the specs and are a great pair of boots. Have worn on long hikes in muddy water and great results."

Vasque

St. Elias FG GTX

Vasque
$220 at Amazon

This U.S.-based, European-inspired manufacturer is in its sixth decade of shoeing intrepid trekkers, and that venerable legacy (now subsumed under the aegis of Red Wing Shoes) is embodied in the Vasque St. Elias.

The warm, horsey-brown full-grain leather uppers of the Cognac variety sent me off on reveries of Alpine vistas, fir-lined trailways, and dutiful St. Bernards. "Have had them for approx five months and have been on multiple hikes with these boots," said one five-star reviewer. "They are comfortable, and rugged.... Would buy again without hesitation."

Renegade

Lowa
$245 at Zappos

You'll pay a bit more for these Hall of Fame boots...but they're worth every penny.

In 2020 Backpacker magazine inducted this model into its Editors' Choice 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame. As they put it: “Yes, the Renegade is a big, burly leather boot, built for eating miles and slaying rough terrain, but, dang, is it comfortable.” Available in wide and narrow sizes, and three colors. “I never expected to say that any shoe over $200 was a bargain,” says one reviewer, “but...this shoe qualifies.”

Timberland

White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Timberland
$105 $115 at Amazon

The one, the only Timberland in classic Wheat.

Another tres affordable option, this one with a bit more reputational gravitas. In a game of word association many people would simply blurt out “Timberland!” upon hearing the words hiking boots. Yep, they’re that established. And who am I to argue? "I have been wearing Timberline White Ledge boots for the last 22 years," said one of over 38,000 five-star reviewers. "For a lightweight waterproof hiking boot they can't be beat." PS: At this price point, can you blame me for not listing these first? You might not have read any further...and I simply couldn’t have that.

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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Originally published