Hiking shoes or boots are the essential elements for an unforgettable hiking experience, but the choice of a pair of hiking boots is often epic.
The reason is simple: despite the many technological innovations and increasingly versatile models, no manufacturer has succeeded in inventing the universal shoe.
It is also common for a hiking enthusiast to own at least two pairs of hiking shoes.
To provide comfort and safety, your boots or shoes must be adapted to the type of hiking you do, the terrain but also the weather conditions.
There are three main types of boots/shoes available:
- hiking shoes,
- day hiking boots,
- and trekking boots.
The differences between these three categories are in boot height, durability, protection, and support.
However, in all these categories, they are excellent hiking boots that are light, robust, comfortable and not always so expensive but you don't necessarily have the time and courage to try them all to find the right shoe for your foot.
So I will offer you, here, the 10 best hiking shoes and boots in each category at the moment with a focus on their weight.
Most people use sports shoes when they go for a walk, but it is not ideal, they are always more suitable than city shoes but lack support and grip outside the asphalt.
Features of hiking shoes
Hiking shoes generally have a low cut, and their main characteristics are lightness and flexibility. These shoes have the advantage of having a thicker and more studded sole than sports shoes.
Also, they are stronger and better protect the feet and therefore reduce the chance of injury and blisters.
Use of hiking shoes
These shoes are suitable for walking for a maximum of one day, on easy paths with little gradient, with a light backpack and in mild weather conditions. They can also be used for many outdoor activities.
Do not wear this kind of shoes outside the use mentioned above because they are usually not waterproof, do not protect the foot and ankle enough on rough terrain and are too supple to be able to hike safely for a long time and with a substantially heavy backpack.
Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX - The Unbeatable Classic
If you have to deal with steep descents and slopes during your hikes, use the X Ultra 3 GTX to provide you with the best support possible.
These Salomon hiking shoes have acquired a solid reputation and are particularly appreciated for the stability they offer to experienced hikers.
Equipped with a Gore-Tex® membrane, they are suitable for all types of environments and can be used all year round, in the mountains or on a wet trail.
The X Ultra 3 GTX now features Descent Control technology, which provides increased support during steep descents, and has an extremely adherent Contagrip® outsole.
The fit is precise thanks to the Quicklace™ lacing system, while SensiFit technology perfectly wraps your feet, giving this pair an almost custom fit.
No matter the weather or the location, the X Ultra 3 GTX will allow you to approach the descents with serenity during your hikes.
Merrell MQM Flex Gore-Tex - The Fast Hiker
Despite technologies borrowed from trail shoes and a look that goes hand in hand, the Merrell MQM Flex GTX is not a trail running shoe.
It is indeed a fast hiking shoe offering maximum freedom to hikers for whom mountain rhymes with performance.
Extremely flexible, they nevertheless offer high stability and a high grip for a secure stride in technical terrain.
Finally, equipped with a Gore-Tex® membrane, they will not fear snow or rain.
Positioned as one of the leaders in the approach shoe market thanks to its legendary Dragontail, the Italian brand is expanding its offer in this segment with the new Sticky stone Gtx.
It is a very resistant leather model that comes in a non-membrane version that is particularly popular in summer, but also in a highly breathable mesh version under the name Sticky Cloud.
Much more versatile than its illustrious predecessor, it relies heavily on comfort and lightness, making it possible to consider a hiking-oriented use serenely.
The shoe nevertheless remains narrow to keep a maximum of precision: you don't betray your origins so easily.
Day Hiking Boots
These are probably the most popular hiking boots. They are versatile and do not represent a huge investment.
Features of day hiking boots
Day hiking boots are mainly mid-cut or high-cut, relatively light, with good support, and good outsole grip. They are often moderately isolated and not very waterproofed.
Use of day hiking boots
They are suitable for hikes of a few days in the mountains in non-extreme weather conditions. They stand between hiking shoes and trekking boots. They are very versatile and can be used for day hikes and possibly for longer walks under certain circumstances.
Although they are very versatile, they are often not adapted (too flexible, not waterproof enough) for long itinerant treks. They can be used for treks but only by experienced people and under certain conditions.
On the other hand, they can be uncomfortable for walks because they prevent an excellent natural rolling movement of the foot and are a little heavier than hiking shoes. However, in this case, they will offer more stability and safety.
Best Lightweight Day Hiking Boots
The Renegade GTX Mid is a classic Lowa, good for everything as long as you don't venture too far off the beaten track, the low and medium mountains being undeniably your favorite playgrounds.
The mid-section nubuck leather upper, neither too soft nor too stiff, will provide enough ankle support for the refractory hiker with low cuts, while the Gore Tex® membrane will allow you to jump happily into each puddle of water without fear of getting your foot soaked.
In short, a flexible and versatile shoe for lovers of medium mountains and long trails.
Vibram® Evo non-slip and cushioning sole.
Introduced in the Italian brand's ranges last year, the Nucleo High GTX Hiking Boots boast a complex and attractive positioning: 30% "approach", 50 % running, 20% "mountain". In other words: the design of the Nucleo, which remains a "high/mid cut" a priori dedicated to trekking, is clearly based on a lightness/technicality program from a wide range of environment.
A lightweight, agile, ultra-comfortable high cut hiking boot: the Nucleo is a very accomplished response between the irreconcilable worlds of the low cuts and the big artillery of the "rigid" trekking boots.
Behind its original "Spiderman" look, you will be more than seduced by its comfort.
And (who can do the most can do the least) by the extent of the different uses to which it can technically and practically respond.
The Asolo Drifter EVO GV is a classic of the Italian brand Asolo. At the border of the hiking and Trekking/Long distance categories, it is a particularly stable and eye-catching versatile model that will be just a little bit limited for large treks with high loads.
Boots equipped with a Gore Tex® membrane.
As usual, Asolo offers a comfortable and precise fit.
Trekking or Long Distance Hiking Boots
Trekking or long distance hiking boots are similar to day hiking boots but are built for more advanced users.
Features of trekking boots
They have a high cut, sometimes slightly higher than day hiking boots.
They are usually made of leather or nubuck, waterproof and quite rigid. Trekking boots offer better protection (stone guard and side reinforcements), better support and comfort than day hiking boots.
Use of trekking boots
They are mainly used for long treks with a heavy load, on challenging terrain with high gradients and in variable weather conditions.
They are made to resist and last over time.
Although these boots have attractive characteristics (strength, waterproofness...), they are generally too rigid, too heavy and do not breathe enough to hike in comfort when walking or day hiking. You may get tired faster and feel heavier.
Best Lightweight Trekking Boots
Flexibility and support characterize the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX. These mountain shoes designed by Salewa feature 3F technology that connects the sole, heel and lacing system for optimal fit and stability.
If you need to cross a stream or face water downpours while trekking, your feet will be effectively protected by the Gore-Tex® membrane, which offer both waterproofing and breathability.
The Vibram® Wrapping Thread Combi sole provides high precision to your steps and excels in excellent grip on all types of surfaces and in durability.
Finally, the dual density Bilight Technology midsole provides a very pleasant cushioning.
The result is an impressive hybrid model of comfort and support, whose durability is enhanced by Thermo Tech Application™ technology, which provides a water-repellent upper and avoids the use of seams inside the shoe.
The 3D Flex System around the ankle works wonders and makes it easier to progress in high mountains and on rough paths.
It also improves stability and therefore makes carrying heavy loads less laborious. This innovative mountain shoe will allow you to go beyond your limits and reach the summits!
Salomon's Quest 4D 3 GTX has quickly become a reference, and for good reasons: despite being lightweight, it features everything that makes a good mountain shoe, namely stability, grip, comfort, and strength.
Solomon's 4D chassis is acclaimed for the control it provides and for its foot protection. It is used to reduce the feeling of fatigue, especially in the ankles, and allows you to progress at ease on the most demanding trails.
The nubuck high cut is durable and comfortable to wear, while the Performance Comfort Footwear GORE-TEX® membrane will keep your feet dry in all circumstances.
As for the sole, the High Traction Contagrip® will offer excellent grip, no matter where or how bad the weather is.
This new 2018 model appeared in 2015 at Asolo; the Shiraz GV is an excellent choice for the experienced hiker who wants to do everything (or almost) in the mountains with only one pair of hiking boots.
In terms of sole flexibility, it is halfway between a trekking shoe and a mountaineering shoe, which gives it great versatility.
The walk remains comfortable, and we can afford a few easy steps of climbing.
Made with Gore Tex® membrane to withstand all weather conditions and offers consistent stone protection on the forefoot for protection in rough terrain.
The upper is made of leather and Schoeller softshell which offers excellent breathability.
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The whole list is amazing but I personally like these both
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX and Merrell MQM Flex Gore-Tex
I personally own the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX and I must say it’s difficult to find a hiking shoe with similar qualities.
The Salewas Rapace GTX are pretty good. Pretty grippy and ligth, and they have that extra-tall neck to stabilze the ankle.
I know the Salewa Rapace GTX but in this article I’ve limited my research on hiking shoes, day hiking boots, and trekking boots.
The model you referred is a classic mountaineering boot that I will certainly cover in a future article.
Thanks for mentioning it.
Hello Lara, thanks for writing article on hiking boots shoes, GTX design looks cool , I am planning to buy .
The GTX are also my favorites.
Hello Lara Sein,
i am planning to buy Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX this shoe is look great I checked images on google but conformed the grip of this shoe. whats your suggestion about that. i am waiting for your suggestions. please response me as soon as possible.
The Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX have great traction, are pretty lightweight but much more expensive and less durable than others (i.e. Salomon’s Quest 4D 3 GTX).
Asolo Shiraz are the ultimate all in one shoes, heck, I’ve played basketball with those shoes. haha.
That is something I’d like to see. haha!
Hiking is really great activity when it comes to traveling and outing. And for best experience, we need to choose the best shoes for hiking. Your article helps me a lot to choose the best shoes for hiking. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.
Hiking shoes are indeed one of the most important gear when in the outdoors.
I’m glad my article helped you.
thanks for writing article on hiking boots shoes, GTX design looks cool, I am planning to buy .
You’re welcome. But GTX refers to Gore-Tex, it is not a model of hiking boots.