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Reviewed by our Outdoor Geeks:

THE 5 BEST HIKING BOOTS in 2021

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Our experts at work

We gave our Outdoor Gear lovers one job:

Find and review the best Hiking Boots.

The result is 5 of the best Hiking Boots on the market today.

Hunter Bierce

PSIA Ski Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PSIA Ski Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

You’ll seldom have a more intimate relationship with a piece of gear than with your hiking boots.

In the increasingly niche world of specialized footwear, there are more options than ever within your specific performance parameters. That includes “out of the box” comfort, or long-term insurance over the toughest terrain.

We’ve narrowed down the scope to our five favorite candidates across the different categories of boot. There are lighter hiking boots as well as more solid models for better stability.

Our buyer’s guide below has advice about choosing hiking boots and how they should fit. Never compromise on fit.  

Top 5 Best Hiking Boots In 2021

See our quick top 5, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

Still unsure as to what hiking boots to choose? Check out our buying guide to know what to look for when buying a hiking boots.

The Quest 4, along with the fast and light analog the Ultra 3, are the most popular Salomon hiking boots and the current undisputed darlings of the boot world. This, in part, has to do with Salomon’s ability to ”toe the line” between performance categories without yielding on comfort or competence.

The Quest series has been through several iterations all intent on delivering big boot benefits in a pared-down package– and the Quest 4 is the most fully-realized model to date.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Proprietary Contagrip TD outsoles with aggressive lug pattern
  • EVA Midsole with shock absorption
  • Combined ADV-C 4D chassis and aggressive lacing system for ankle support
  • Gore Tex backed waterproofing and breathability
  • Mixed full-grain leather and synthetic construction
What we like:
  • Top grade protection that still allows for easy walking
  • Reasonable (albeit slightly warm) balance between waterproofing and breathability
  • Stability that doesn’t come at the expense of comfort
  • About as light as you can get a “real” hiking boot
What we don’t like:
  • Numerous reports of the toe cap separating from the body of the shoe
  • Not available in high-volume models to accommodate wider feet
  • Pricey if you’re not planning on using it for any technical carries

The Quest 4 Gore Tex keeps step with classic full-grain footwear in terms of stability and protection, with fit and weight closer to midrange and lightweight alternatives. These are in line with years of development of Salomon hiking boots.

For those in the market for the proverbial “best of both worlds” it’s about as good as you can do. Off trail and deep backcountry enthusiasts in search of a lightweight tank, as well as casual hikers with a few too many rolled ankles can make good use of this compact and capable boot.

REI, renowned purveyors of outdoor equipment, also have an ever-expanding in-house catalogue of gear. This year’s inaugural foray into the world of hiking boots saw two models, the lightweight and flexible Flash, and the heavier, more classically-minded Traverse.

The Flash represents the best of what we’ve seen in the lightweight category over the last several years, chimerically reassembled into an affordable and widely available boot.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Knit polyester uppers with layered TPU reinforcement
  • Hydrowall waterproofing
  • Wide toe box for more natural stride and to accommodate foot swelling
  • Nylon shanks for lightweight underfoot stability
  • Recycled and ethically sourced components spread throughout the boot
What we like:
  • Affordable and accessible- a great way to try out a lightweight boot
  • Knit construction optimizes weight and out of the box comfort
  • At just over 1lb per shoe, it’s a competitively light alternative to a traditional boot
  • Reasonably water resistant despite the mesh build
What we don’t like:
  • The lightweight construction translates to durability issues in this case
  • Those interested in this boot may be better served by a pair of trail runners
  • Lugs feel like a poor compromise between real boot traction and trail shoes

The Flash isn’t for everyone, but based on it’s impressively low weight and unique “hybrid-runner” build approach, it’s certainly worth considering for anyone interested in shaving ounces off of their backpacking kit. As far as lighter hiking boots go, this is definitely one of the best.

If you’re impressed with the price, but feel like you need a boot with more bite, their Traverse keeps the same affordable attitude with a big uptick in support and durability.

Merrell’s Moab is a venerated hiker built with day treks in mind. Prioritizing comfort and stability– they’re the Honda Odyssey of hiking shoes in an industry obsessed with making everything lighter and faster.

The Moab 2 carries the torch of its predecessor, delivering affordable consistency across inconsistent landscapes. The lightweight, low-cut ventilator version is our favorite iteration, but the Moab 2 is also available in waterproof, Gore-Tex, and high cut alternatives.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Suede and mesh mixed upper build
  • Contoured footbed for improved arch support
  • Vibram outsole with 5mm lugs
  • Rubber toe cap to help protect from the occasional rock kick
  • Available in hightopped, low topped cuts as well as waterproof, mesh, and Gore-Tex variations
What we like:
  • Among the most affordable options that you can trust on trail
  • Sensible and dependable option for day hikes
  • Available in quite a few variations that you can tailor to your needs
  • A good entry point or mainstay for relaxed hikers
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t offer enough support for heavy loads or long days
  • Won’t hold up in terms of durability compared to a real hiking boot
  • “Do it all” outsoles don’t do anything exceedingly well

Reasonably tough and lightweight for an inarguably stellar price, the Moab 2 deserves every bit of the reputation it’s earned.

I’d call it the “safe bet” for day hikers who are unsure of what exactly they want out of a shoe- far more protective and stable than a trail runner while less of a price, weight, and break-in commitment than a full-blown hiking boot.

Envisioned by one of the foremost luxury running shoe manufacturers, the Sky Kaha delivers all of the cloud walking implications of its name. As it stands they’re our favorite in comfort.

With a full-grain body, Gore-Tex waterproofing, and thick outsoles that look like they’d be more at home on the moon than your local hiking trail. The copy implies they’re built for easy uphills and fast downhills, these boots perform better on trail than on any kind of technical ascent.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Gore-Tex bootie keeps the water out while promoting breathability
  • Plush EVA midsole with additional layer of rubberized foam
  • Vibram outsole with 5mm lugs
  • Full-grain leather uppers
  • Adjustable lacing system
What we like:
  • Superior support and protection from the dreaded rolled ankle
  • More comfortable than hiking boot has a right to be
  • Gore Tex bootie effectively locks out moisture from shallow streams, snow, and puddles
  • Reasonably lightweight given the extra padding and cushions
What we don’t like:
  • For all of the protection, it doesn’t offer much when you get off trail and isn’t suitable for technical applications
  • Awfully expensive compared to some other “comfortable” boots on this list
  • If you do happen to venture into rough terrain there’s a good chance you’ll chew the boot up a bit

Hoka One One are the “maximalist” champions of the running world, and have manifested that same podiatric pampering attitude in their hiking boots.

While we have some doubt as to the purported technical viability of these boots, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more comfortable under your feet while on trail.

The St. Elias far more resembles a traditional hiking boot than anything else we’ve looked at thus far.

Instead of cutting corners and worrying about saving an ounce or two these boots use their weight as a weapon, letting you kick steps in compacted snow, stomp down low-hanging briars, and use your heels to slow descents on muddy banks. But unlike traditional boots, they do all of this while retaining underfoot flexibility and “out of the box” comfort.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vibram outsoles with targeted EVA internal cushioning
  • Full-grain leather uppers with Gore-Tex waterproofing
  • TPU shank under the midsole
  • Full rubber toe cap
What we like:
  • Available in an alternative version for wide feet
  • Appreciable balance between comfort and toughness
  • More than adequately keeps your feet warm, dry, and protected
What we don’t like:
  • On the heavy side of contemporary hiking boots
  • They’d be more technically suitable with increased underfoot stiffness
  • Run warm in the summer

The St. Elias offers classic hiking boot build without the blisters and break-in time. It’s appealing to anyone who wants the support and protection of a full-grain, built out boot and finds some underfoot weight reassuring.

Though substantially less than a mountaineering boot, the St. Elias can hike, scramble, and strut with the best of them.

Hiking Boot Buyer’s Guide

Hiking boots are the sole means of protection between your feet and the countless perils of the trail. While the recreational philosophies and manufacturing limitations of the last century imposed expectations of heavy, high-topped boots, we now live in the era of boundless choice and unparalleled specificity.

There are many different takes on hiking and backcountry travel, and even more models of hiking boots. While the burly boots of yore have their contemporary analogues, we’ll be looking comprehensively at all the styles and purposes to help you figure out what types might be right for you. Further information of technical features and materials can be found below.

Types of Hiking Boots

Form follows function with most outdoor gear, and hiking boots are no exception. While there are no hard and fast rules, it generally follows that the heavier and stiffer the boot is, the more serious and technical the application.

Some experienced hikers approach all things with the “light is right” mentality, while others appreciate the support full-sized hiking boots tend to offer

Hiking Shoes/Trail Runners

These are the lightest out of all of your options, but they’re also the least supportive and offer much less protection. Hiking shoes are low-cut and made out of the same materials as leather and heavy materials as a full-blown high topped boot.

Built mostly with day hikes in mind, these shoes have the distinct advantage of drying out faster and usually being better ventilated than full toed hiking boots.

Trail runners are an even lighter alternative. As the name implies they’re optimized running shoes made of mesh and reinforced fabrics, with sizable bottom lugs for increased traction and sometimes rock plates to protect from bruising.

Some long-distance hikers prefer these to hiking boots for extended backpacking trips to optimize weight over protection.

Light Hiking Boots/Day Hiking Boots

Lighter hiking boots may look similar to backpacking boots, but as a whole are much more comfortable and flexible. Designed to provide more lateral stability and underfoot protection than a shoe, boots in this category are usually mid-cut and made from supple leather and synthetic blends.

Lightweight hiking boots are well-suited for day hiking and lighter, low-commitment backpacking trips. They’ll keep your feet protected on most maintained trails without making you suffer too much for the weight on your feet.

Backpacking Boots

True backpacking boots are stable, durable, and heavy. They’re built for the kinds of trips where you live more in your boots than anywhere else, and can’t compromise on protection.

Full grain-uppers with cuffs that extend well above the ankle, stiff midsoles, and robust outsoles with aggressive lugs, these boots are made to devour any terrain on or off trail.

Nowadays there are considerable weight discrepancies between styles and models, but regardless their intention is to prevent rolled ankles and bruised feet when hiking on uneven terrain or carrying a heavy load for an extended period of time.

Where lightweight boots tend to be comfortable out of the box and are prone to wearing down over time, traditional backpacking boots are a worthy investment of both your time and money.

Provided you have the patience to properly break them in and the foresight for regular maintenance and repair, you’ll have a dependable tool good for many miles worth of walking.

Specialized stuff- Mountaineering Boots/Approach Shoes

These technical options are a little outside of the scope of our interest, they’re still worth touching on for context.

Mountaineering boots are built for extended glacier travel, are extremely waterproof and are compatible with crampons. They’re built for high altitudes and extreme cold, and blur the line between hiking boots and ski boots.

Approach shoes split the difference between hiking and climbing shoes, and are primarily intended for situations where you need to be comfortable walking a fair distance, but may also need some dependable rubber underfoot for steep rocky slopes.

The name comes from the idea that you’d wear them hiking up to a crag or the base of a climb before switching to your actual climbing shoes.

How to Choose a Hiking Boot

As is often the case with outdoor gear, the best way to optimize your selection is to figure out how you’ll be using it. We’ve mentioned several times how nuanced and specialized boots have become, and it follows that those built for quick shots down the local trailhead aren’t going to have much in common with those intended for mountain climbing.

To break it down a little further, ask yourself these questions:

What kind of trails do I want to hike?

This is probably the most important question you should consider. While there’s certainly overlap depending on your style and experience, taking a look at intended terrain is ever a bad place to start your search.

On trail hiking/day hikes

If you normally depart from marked trailheads, keep strictly to the beaten path, and like to stay within 5 miles of your starting point

  • Prioritize low weight and comfort, but still provide you with enough support to suit your preferences
  • Look toward hiking shoes, trail runners, and light hiking boots, anything that’s light and flexible
Rough trail/Non-technical offtrail

If you want to get a little more adventurous on primitive trails, squirrely singletrack, light scrambling and nontechnical route finding

  • Look toward a midweight hybrid boot that splits the difference between comfort and protection
  • Backpacking boots, light hiking boots, and the low end of heavy boots are all within your range on consideration
Rough Terrain/Alpine Ascents

If you plan on going way out there on longer backpacking trips on unpredictable terrain, scrambling and long alpine ascents

  • Look first to durability, stability, and underfoot protection
  • Classic backpacking boots and heavy, full-graining hiking boots are your best bet

How long is the trail/what is your intended pace

Distance is an essential consideration when it comes to optimizing your hiking boots selection. Though preferences vary person to person, a good criterion is to keep things as light and comfortable as possible for shorter distances and gradually increase the supportiveness as you extend into overnight and multi day treks.

The same is true for pace- the faster you move the more that weight is going to impact your performance and make you want to trade support for freedom of movement.

Trail runners opt for beefed-up running shoes with grippy lugs, while high-cuffed boots have been traditionally favored by backpackers.

Long-distance backpackers (much aligned with the running community) concerned with weight often opt for “trail runners” as well.

How much weight do you usually carry?

As with distance, the type of footwear scales loosely with the weight you’re carrying. Quick nature walks and runners can get by with a pair of hiking shoes or trail runners, while those venturing a little further carrying packs may want a bit more support to compensate for the load.

When you need to consider the additional weight of food and shelter, supportive boots go a long way towards keeping your feet moving, even when the ounces and miles start to stack up. By that same logic, gear-intensive activities, you’ll want the beefiest boots out there.

That’s why traditional backpacking boots were so heavy back in the day, and also part of the reason that mountaineering boots are their own separate category of footwear.

What is your experience and current fitness level?

Outside of the environment that you’ll be throwing yourself into- you’ll also want to take a moment to reflect on yourself.

Personal preference is the only absolute, and regardless of the activity there’s no wrong choice so long as you’re safe and warm enough. Your physical shape and on-trail experience have a big influence on this.

If you’re unsure of what you need, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution and opt for a more supportive option. There’s no reason to push yourself to the point of discomfort, and there’s something massively satisfying about shaping a pair of heavy boots to the form of your feet through nothing but gradual miles of trail.

Hiking Boot Technical Considerations

Comfort

The finest materials and fine-tooled features won’t be of much use to you if your boots are uncomfortable. Different models of boots, regardless of shoe size, fit your foot differently.

For example, some are narrow to keep your foot locked in and make more efficient use of your energy, while others take a wider approach to accommodate thick feet.

The signature “feel” of a hiking boot differs from brand to brand, with every manufacturer bringing something different to the table. Some specific models are so beloved they’ve developed cult followings in the hiking world.

The best way to figure out what boot is best for you is to get out and try a few pairs on. At the very least, have a good idea of your exact foot size and if width is a common problem spot for you.

Everyone is going to have different ideas of what’s comfortable, or in some cases, how much discomfort they’re willing to tolerate at the behest of performance.

It’s worth keeping in mind that most boots aren’t going to be their most comfortable right out of the box and need an appreciable break-in period before they’re ready to rip.

Weight

There’s a fine balance between having a boot that’s burly enough to keep you protected over long treks and trying to cut down weight to reduce fatigue.

As with many aspects surrounding hiking boots, ultimately it comes down to preference- though you can usually gauge how much boot you’ll need by the type and intensity of hiking you’re doing and the weight of your pack.

While you’ll never find yourself wishing that your feet weighed more on trail, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately protected for the terrain.

Lighter boots compromise on protective and supportive factors, leaving you more vulnerable to stubbed toes, sore feet, and rolled ankles. But by that same token, opting for a lighter boot will greatly reduce cumulative strain and fatigue over the course of your hike.

Stability and Stiffness

You can’t really overstate the importance of support on-trail. When we talk about stability and stiffness, we mean both lateral stability (side to side protection from rolled ankles) as well as underfoot stability (how much flexibility is in the sole).

Combined, these factors determine how efficient your boots are at holding an edge on terrain, uphill efficiency, and the degree of protection they offer.

Stiffer boots accomplish their increased resilience by way of a stiff piece of plastic in the midsole layer. A more lively midlayer takes some strain off of your calves while slogging uphill and goes a long way towards protecting your feet when on sharp and uneven terrain.

This comes at the behest of weight, so for flatter hikes where your sights are set on calming forest meadows as opposed to lofty mountain peaks you’re better off opting for a more comfortable soft soled option.

In a similar fashion lateral stability becomes more important when the trail becomes more technical. Rolled ankles are without a doubt the most common hiking injury, and the likelihood only increases on uneven terrain.

Materials

A boot is only as good as the materials it’s made up of, and different materials are going to have different purposes and levels of protection. Below we’ll go over the different section of boots and the materials you’re most likely to see employed in their construction.

Uppers

Hiking boot uppers are the body of the boot, essentially everything that you’re not stepping on. The materials used in the uppers of a boot will have an impact on how tough the boot is, how waterproof it is, as well as significantly impact the boot’s weight.

Synthetic Nylon and Mesh

For those looking to capitalize on the light and fast approach, or who want a boot that feels comfortable out of the box and aren’t worried about getting the most support and durability- nylon and mesh uppers offer a lightweight, affordable, and serviceable way to hit the trails.

Synthetic components are used in many modern hiking boots, but full synthetic options tend to be the most breathable and affordable out of contemporary options. The drawbacks of these materials are they tend to be less supportive than leather alternatives, and break down much more rapidly particularly when exposed to rough and sharp terrain.

Split Grain Leather

If synthetics and full-grain leather represent the extreme ends of the hiking boot spectrum, then split grain boots are a compromise between the weight and low cost of synthetics, and the increased durability afforded by full grains.

Made up of leftover leather scraps, boots made from split grain leather are often supplemented with synthetic components- making an end product that is closer to a reinforced mesh boot than it is an affordable full-grain alternative.

Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather is favored by many boot manufacturers due to its scuff-resistance and relative pliability compared to polished full-grain.

Because it’s been buffed to a soft, fuzzy texture, nubuck leather not only looks great translated into an outdoor environment, but is also less likely to crack over prolonged exposure to the elements.

Similar to split grain options, nubuck leather tends to be paired with mesh and nylon components to accentuate the lower weight and increased breathability- but is closer in spirit to their full grain counterparts than a lightweight hiking boot.

You still need to respect these boots with time and patience for a proper break-in period before you go traipsing down a long trail.

Full Grain Leather

Full-grain leather is the material traditionally used in old school hiking boots, and is without a doubt the most robust and water-resistant material typically used in hiking boots. Full grain leather boots are built for toting heavy loads and navigating rough terrain- situations where you need the most protection and support possible and aren’t concerned with weight or breathability.

Unlike the blended material boots discussed above, full-grain boots tend to be made entirely of leather to highlight their rugged and weather resistant properties- and are also on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Full-grain boots take patience to break in and maintenance to keep running. So long as you put in the time and effort to treat them right you’ll see a mighty return on your investment.

Midsole

Midsoles are a major contributor toward keeping your feet from being mulched by the trail underneath you. The midsole does the double duty of absorbing shock (thereby saving your knees) and giving you some underfoot stiffness via the aforementioned shank.

Not all midsoles are the same, and as is the case with most things in the hiking boot world, the more unyielding the feel the more technical the purpose: for more intense trails you’ll want a stiffer midsole. In either case, a good midsole will keep your legs limber and your feet underneath you.

EVA

The majority of lightweight boots are going to have an EVA midsole. Underfoot these foam midsoles exist somewhere on the springy and pliable spectrum giving a comprehensively more comfortable feel than their PU counterparts.

The drawback is that these supple soles are much more prone to wear and tear- that being said, not all EVA foam midsoles are made to the same standard. Higher quality foam will be a little stiffer and last a bit longer, and some boots employ differing densities to add stiffness to critical parts of the footbed while retaining the comfort.

As a general rule, you’ll want to opt for PU midsoles for more technical adventures because of both the protection and more efficient uphill travelability.

PU

Though you won’t be trading your Polyurethane (PU) insoles for your slippers, you’ll be glad to have them when the trail gets steep and the rocks get sharp. These are the kinds of soles you’ll typically see in serious backpacking and mountaineering boots, though there are some notable exceptions to this rule.

There are also quite a few boots that hybridize PU and foam midsoles to give you the benefits of rigidity while allowing for at least a little bit of the comfort that you’d get out of a lightweight boot.

Shanks and Plates

Shanks and plates are a way to add some additional rigidity and protection to the midsole respectively. Shanks are stiff pieces of plastic that have the threefold benefit of extra arch support, increased underfoot stability, and helping your boot maintain its shape over time.

Shanks and plates are built into the structure of the boot itself, sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole.

Plates, by contrast, are less about improving the stiffness of the boot and more concerned with protecting your feet from getting bludgeoned by on-trail terrain hazards. These thin layers of either plastic or carbon fiber are affixed in between the midsole and the outsole (below the shank) and prevent your feet from getting poked or prodded by roots and rocks.

These plates differ in shape and size, but they work by spreading the force of impact along their entire length rather than letting it be concentrated to a single spot.

Outsoles

You can spend hours researching the perfect fit and firmness for your hiking boot, but at the end of the day what it really comes down to is where the tread meets the trail.

Outsoles come in all shapes and sizes, oftentimes optimized for particular environments and activities. Many manufacturers outsource their soles to Vibram (nearly a household name with sporty families), who produces a range of rubber to the specifications of brand and model.

Again speaking broadly, the bigger the lugs on the boot, the better it’s going to do on loose and muddy terrain- the knobby lugs act like cleats digging into the soft ground, wet snow, or pine boughs.

Smoother soft-rubber soles act similarly to climbing shoes, using friction to stick to hard and shear surfaces.

As a final note, you may want to keep your eye out for a distinct, textured section near the back of the sole known as a heel brake, particularly if you plan on doing a lot of steep ascents and descents.

As the name implies this is a panic failsafe if you start to feel your feet sliding from underneath you on steep descents, and offer a final chance at saving yourself before a washout.

 

Waterproofing/Breathability

Moisture regulation is important for hiking, whether you’re trying to keep water out or let your boots dry out quickly, walking around in wet boots is a great way to develop blisters and hotspots in an otherwise sound pair of boots.

Most hiking boots tend to have some water-resistant properties and claim to be breathable as well, but generally speaking, these two factors tend to be mutually exclusive. A waterproof boot

The alternative is to opt for something light and meshed, and become one with the moisture. Even though these breathable boots will soak through if you so much as think about stepping in a puddle, they’ll also drain on their own and dry out fairly quickly.

Toe Caps

Kicking the occasional rock or root is an inevitability when on trail, and after a few solid punts it can really start to have an impact on the structural integrity of both your feet and your boots.

A well-developed toe cap goes a long way towards keeping your outsole attached to your boot and your toenails attached to your nail beds. Lightweight boots and hiking shoes will eschew a hearty cap to save on weight where built-out techy and mountaineering boots will a rand that wraps close to the entirety of the top of your foot.

Like any other protective or supportive factor, it really comes down to where you’re willing to compromise. If you have the constant awareness that it takes to pick your feet up while running or hiking, a lightweight and less protective option is great. I’m likely to be distracted by the scenery and am known to punish the trail with punitive kicks, so a little more upfront is always a favorable factor for me.

Lacing Systems

The importance of a serviceable lacing system cannot be overstated when it comes to choosing your next pair of hiking boots. Lacing systems are a great way to add some lateral support to your ankle, and work in tandem with the shape of the boot to keep your heel in place to prevent blisters.

The aggressiveness of the lacing system will vary greatly between different styles of boots, with minimalist hiking shoes looking a lot like most runners, while burly boots will have reinforced eyelets and lace hooks that allow you to really cinch down in the most critical spots.

It’s often the case that the laces themselves are just as important as the boot that you thread them through. If your laces are prone to slipping and loosening over the course of your hike, it may be worth investing in a higher-quality pair. Also worth noting are the numerous lacing styles one can employ to address fit problems like heel slip and hot spots.

Insoles

If you have particularly sensitive feet or plan on doing a lot of hiking, investing in a pair of aftermarket insoles is a great way to save yourself some long term discomfort.

As we similarly recommend with ski boots, a solid set of insoles can be the difference between a successful venture and a limp back to the trailhead. Though they’re less likely to be a “make-or-break” factor like they are in the unyielding PU of alpine boots, insoles are well worth the investment for anyone with special feet or serious about spending some time on trail.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about hiking boots

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    How to clean hiking boots?

    As is the case with most outdoor gear, a little up-front love and care goes a long way towards extending the life and performance of your hiking boots. Different materials and types of stains require different treatments- but the ultimate rule of thumb is to get your boots dry as fast as possible once you’re finished walking in them. Below we’ll cover several techniques for caring for your boots, and getting the most mileage out of them possible. For more on the different types of hiking boots and our favorites of the latest and greatest, take a look at our best hiking boots page.
    How to clean hiking boots:

    • Drying hiking boots- Hiking boots should be dried at room temperature, away from moisture and external heat sources. If you need to speed up the process, ditching the insoles and throwing a fan in the mix helps a lot. After they’re dried out, store them someplace temperature and moisture regulated.
    • Removing dirt and stains- Getting rid of stains and dirt just takes some shoe cleaner and a stiff-bristled brush. After removing the laces and insoles, use warm water and your cleaner to clear your uppers and outsole of all the accumulated gunk and grime. Make sure your cleaner isn’t going to chew through the oftentimes sensitive materials of your boot, and at no point should you use a washing machine.
    • Cleaning mold- Mold is a problem best addressed preemptively by properly drying and storing your boots. But if it’s too late for that, you can always spot clean with an 80% water to 20% vinegar solution.
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    How should hiking boots fit?

    Hiking boots should fit snugly all the way around your foot, but should never feel tight or restrictive. To see the different styles of boot and side-by-side comparisons of our favorites of the season, take a look at our best hiking boots guide.
    Tips for getting the right hiking boot fit:

    • Wear the right socks- Trying out boots with a pair of padded hiking socks will give you a much more accurate idea of what to expect on trail.
    • Give them some break in time- The way your boots feel is going to change in both the short term and the long term. Expect your feet to swell a little over the course of your hike, so you might need a little more volume than anticipated. In a similar way, many boots need some time to “break in” and become more accommodating and pliable.
    • Consider aftermarket insoles- For those with consistent comfort or support problems, investing in a custom insole is a no-brainer. For long days on your feet, you want something that’s built to your specific needs.
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    What are the best hiking boots for wide feet?

    Selectivity is key when it comes to choosing your next pair of hiking boots, and those of us with wide feet understand the struggle of finding comfortable shoes more than most. Our comprehensive guide to hiking boots has all the details you could want about picking out your next pair, as well as side by side comparisons of our top picks this season. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorites for wide feet.
    Best hiking boots for wide feet:

    • Salomon X Ultra 3
    • Merrell Moab Ventilator
    • Salomon Quest 4
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    Does REI make hiking boots?

    REI Co-op recently launched their own line of hiking boots. Drawing on inspiration from across the industry, their new Flash and Traverse hiking boots represent both the lightweight and innovative, as well as the more traditional and trusted takes on hiking boot construction respectively. For a closer look at their new line of boots, and to see how they stack up against other big names in the game, take a look at our best hiking boots page.

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    How to break in hiking boots?

    You’ve heard about the importance of giving your hiking boots time to break in before heading out on any kind of sizable trip- but that begs the question of how one should go about actually getting your boots in good enough condition to go far. In short- the best way to break in your boots is to hike in them, but be sure to limit your treks to shorter, more manageable distances until they’re pliable enough to trust when you’re more than a couple miles out.

    For more hiking boot tips and tricks, as well as a closer look at our favorite models of this season, head over to our best hiking boots page.

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