A hike is only as good as your footwear. Whether you need to invest in trail runners or hiking boots largely depends on the nature of the trail and the strength of your foot. But across the board, hiking boots are your best defense against the elements and twisted ankles. Here, expert hikers reveal their go-to boots for hitting the trails.
1. Vasque Sundowner GTX
“After the first pair lasting hundreds and hundreds of hiking miles and nearly fifteen years, I purchased my second pair of Vasque Sundowner hiking boots in 2016. The reason I love these boots is the combination of durability, comfort [and] utility. The boots are waterproof and lightweight, which are two musts for me. I love my Sundowners.” —David Angotti, co-founder of SmokyMountains.com
“The Mammut Ducan Knit High GTX boots are by far the best hiking boot, because they are lightweight, flexible, but still supportive so you’re less likely to twist an ankle, and the knit outer is durable and looks good. Mammut’s [supportive] footbed provides protection for the bottom of your feet, which keeps you from getting fatigued on a long hike. Really soft shoes or running shoes without a rock-guard in the sole don’t have this protection, so they may be really comfortable, but in the long run your feet may get more fatigued in them.”—Dave Furman, category manager at Mammut
3. Altra Superior 4
“My main hiking boots are trail runners, the Altra Superiors, and they do last hundreds of miles. The wide toe box and zero drop leave my feet feeling great after a 20-mile day and they drain well after river crossings. Whether it’s the Lone Peak, Superiors or King MT I always grab my Altras before hitting the trail.” —Steve Collins, Getaway chief development officer
4. Salomon Ultra 3 GTX
“As an avid adventure traveler, having hiked the steep paths of Mount Kilimanjaro and the lush and narrow Inca trails to Machu Picchu, I’ve become reliant on my Salomon Ultra 3 GTX. Having done more than 15 Intrepid Travel trips on every continent, my hiking boots have endured multiple terrains — stepping on rocks, navigating through precarious grounds — and have survived many years of travels. If you’re looking for a multi-use, reliable hiking boots I highly recommend purchasing a pair of Salomon’s.” —Darshika Jones, regional director in North America for Intrepid Travel
5. Salomon Quest 4D GTX
“My favorite boots are the Salomon Quest 4D because they have high ankle support. I’m always worried about rolling my ankle, especially on the rocky trails of the east coast, and these boots have extra-high ankle support, which makes me feel less at risk of twisting an ankle out on the trail. Even though they’re stiff and high for support, they’re still comfortable. I had zero break-in period, as opposed to other boots that were giving me blisters for months.”
6. Zamberlan, Trezeta, La Sportiva, Lomer
“My first true love were Zamberlans. And once we had hiked the world together, I stayed faithful to the craft of the Italians and now have three pairs depending on the hike and the season.
I also have my hardcore Trezeta leather Maori “go everywhere for the rest of my life” boots. I’m two years in on the fabulous Goretex La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX hiking boot, and the newest addition, the Janko MTX walking shoe from Lomer, which are a little stylish, too. Nothing like a bit of color and fun on the trail to add to the comfort.
My hiking footwear is certainly waterproof, offers good support, and lightweight to prevent tired legs. A good shoe is the key to a great walk.”
— Gina Woodward, CEO of Great Walks of Australia
7. HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat MID WP
With a mud collar and waterproofing, the Speedgoat Mid WP is perfect for technical running trails with the perfect drop of four millimeters, along with just enough cushion to block out all rocks, roots and junk. The lugs on the base are geared toward ascending and descending and are angled perfectly for supreme grip when climbing or descending. The Vibram rubber completes the process with superior grip on all surface, wet or dry. —Karl Meltzer, world-class trekker and ultrarunner, HOKA ONE ONE Athlete
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