We Tested the Best Hiking Boots for Every Adventure

Compiling a list of the best hiking boots for every adventure is hard work.

There are endless outdoor pursuits that require boots—and an even greater mix of conditions. You could be traversing wet, sloppy trails; scrambling over rock; and carefully picking your way through technical jungle terrain. So that’s precisely what we did to find the best options for fall/winter 2019.

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Field Notes

For our test, we took a dozen pairs of traditional hiking boots and boot-shoe hybrids, then trekked up Kebenkaise, Sweden’s highest peak, and hit wet trails. Stateside, we gauged traction on Utah’s Cedar Mesa and the San Rafael River’s Little Grand Canyon. To evaluate comfort, we backpacked Golden Gate Canyon State Park and the James Peak Wilderness. 

After whittling down the list, we ended up with eight hiking boots that provide plenty of comfort with the guts to take on tough terrain.

No matter what kind of adventure you’re embarking on, you’ll need one of these to stabilize your ankles (they’ll also eat dirt and boulders with ease).

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Hoka One One Arkali hiking shoe
Jarren Vink

Best for Rocky Terrain

Hoka One One Arkali   

This hiker builds confidence with an ankle-and-heel strap that you adjust on the fly and grippy lugs that made it easier to scramble over slick rock. At just under a pound per shoe, the Arkali feels like a trail runner.

[$ 200; hokaoneone.com]

Best for Backpacking

Scarpa ZG Trek GTX

Multiday backpacking trips require lots of support, so this Scarpa boosts stability by adding weight. At about 1.5 pounds per boot, the GTXs won’t buckle under a fully loaded pack, yet the suede uppers breathe like a lighter shoe.

[$ 230; scarpa.com]

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Best for Thru-Hiking

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Waterproof 

Comfy out of the box, the Oboz are made for big-mile thru-hikers who burn through footwear. The tough, oversize sole’s big lugs tackle nasty terrain, but the boot feels just as good on a casual day hike.

[$ 140; obozfootwear.com]

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Best for Technical Terrain

Salewa Wildfire Edge 

Salewa meshes a hiker with a climbing shoe, letting us scramble up technical terrain, then make moves that would be foolish with a normal outsole. The laces tighten to the toes for almost surgical on-rock performance.

[$ 170; salewa.com]

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Best for Wide Toe Boxes

Salomon Odyssey Triple Crown 

Cursed with a wide toe box? These minimalist, beefed-up trail runners give broad feet space while holding in place, mile after mile, on thru-hikes or weekend treks to the highest local peak.

[$ 140; salomon.com]

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Best for Comfort

Keen Axis Evo Mid 

The knit upper on the 14-ounce Axis Evo Mid is reinforced at the laces to provide structure, and they fit us like a glove—sans an arduous break-in period. We found the hefty soles ready to take a pounding on rooty, rocky trails.

[$ 160; keenfootwear.com]

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Best for Custom Fit

Tecnica Forge S GTX 

Like its ski boots, Tecnica designed this do-it-all mid-hiker with a custom-fit footbed that skips right by the irritation of breaking in new shoes on the trail. We appreciated the beefy ankle support on tricky terrain.

[$ 270; tecnicasports.com]

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Best for Trail to Street

Danner Trail 2650 GTX 

Don’t be fooled by the casual styling—these Danners pack a Vibram Megagrip outsole that gives the leather-and-fabric low hiker trail cred with an aggressive lug pattern that eats dirt and boulders with ease. Yank the footbed and air it out if you get sweaty.

[$ 170; danner.com]

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