It’s also a test of dealing with pain from aching, blistered feet.
However, hikers don’t wear blisters or bunions as badges of honor; they aren’t the equivalent to a wrestler’s cauliflower ear or a cyclist’s farmer’s tan. Instead, such foot ailments are a sign of poor judgment when purchasing a new pair of hiking shoes.
What bikes are to cyclists and cars are to drivers, a pair of shoes is the vehicle that carries hikers where they wish to go. But your tender-skinned paws should worry not, as we’ve compiled a list of seven hiking shoes that’ll treat your feet as you go on your next epic adventure.
Book your next hiking trip
Best Approach ShoeGarmont Dragontail GTX 1 of 8
While the climbing community has long adored the grip, comfort and stability of approach shoes, backpackers have only recently followed suit.
Offering a minimalist feel similar to trail runners, approach shoes also provide a grippier sole for scrambling on rocky terrain. We loved the distinct sole design Garmont offers with the Dragontail, and its well-engineered, comfortable midsole gives backpackers and climbers alike the comfort they need on long walks through various terrains.
Best NewcomerMishmi Takin Kameng 2 of 8
Hiking shoe manufacturing is a crowded field, so if a newcomer plans to make a splash, game-changing innovation is a must.
The Kameng from Mishmi Takin are the perfect hiking shoes for wet conditions. They contain a Vibram Megagrip sole that offers phenomenal grip and durability, are 100 percent waterproof, and have unmatched breathability.
It's not an overstatement to say these boots are a game changer. Be sure to visit their Kickstarter page for more information.
Best Trail RunnerSalomon S-Lab Sense Ultra SG 3 of 8
It's a growing trend. Trail runners are not only popular among those sprinting through the wilderness, but also among those on long, multi-day backpacking trips. Hi-top hiking boots and stiff shoes simply can't compare to a trail runner's lightweight construction and level of comfort.
While numerous brands have constructed wonderful trail runners, the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra SG stands out for its sleek design, snug fit and amazing traction, all of which easily compare to some of the best hiking shoes on the market.
Best ComfortEddie Bauer Ridgeline Trail Pro 4 of 8
Boasting its waterproof design, breathability, durability and superior traction, the Ridgeline Pro seems like a cross between a trail runner and an approach shoe. It laces and fits like a trail runner—very comfortably with a low profile and hardly any rigidity.
The outsole's grip is second-to-none,and the shoes are incredibly well made. They're also stylish and contain plenty of cushion to combat those pesky blisters.
Best StyleRidgemont Monty Hi 5 of 8
When I came home with a pair of Ridgemont Monty Hi shoes laced up, my fiancé wondered if they were hiking or skating shoes. While this could be a problem for some, I took such confusion as a compliment (she did concede, by the way, that they're incredibly handsome kicks).
The Monty Hi shoes represent the perfect crossover for either the hiker with the urban sensibility, or the urbanite with a knack for adventure. While they look great on the streets of a city, they also perform exceptionally well on the trails, and their comfort and durability could easily last through a trail's toughest tests.
Best Women's BootAhnu North Peak eVent WP 6 of 8
With premium comfort, padding, support and a heel pod for additional cushioning, the inside of Ahnu's latest women's hiking boot offers a blister-free zone.
The shoes also boast waterproof material that's guaranteed to keep feet dry on long treks, and a geometry that allows perfect performance on uneven terrain. If you're thinking of hitting long trails, multi-day backpacking trips or even thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, these should not be overlooked.
Best Overall Hiking BootLowa Renegade GTX Mid 7 of 8
For a well-made, high-performance hiking kick with comfort and style, look no further than the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid.
Lowa has long been one of the industry leaders for great hiking boots, and it's easy to see why. With superior support, the GTX Mid shoes are the full package—rugged enough for rough terrain, comfortable enough for long hikes, light enough to mitigate fatigue and sleek enough to turn heads.