TOP 5 Best Hiking Shoes

TOP 5 Best Hiking Shoes

Are you looking for the best hiking shoes? In this blog post, I will break down the top hiking shoes on the market.

Top Three Picks

Our Pick

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Runners Up

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Budget Pick

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The Salomon X ULTRA 3 is our top lightweight hiking shoe, combining a feathery feel with impressive on-trail performance. As with the previous model, the third edition puts it all together. The shoe is competitively light at 1 pound 10 ounces. The tread design offers impressive grip in just about all conditions, and the stable chassis and cushion interior are great for long trail days. All told, I highly recommend the X ULTRA for day hikes, quick summits, and even lightweight backpacking.

Salomon drew heavily from their trail running expertise with the X ULTRA 3’s design. The single-pull laces are fast to use and provide a secure fit, and the shoe is far more nimble than traditional hikers, like the Merrell Moab 2 or Keen Targhee III. But you don’t sacrifice protection like with the trail runner. Salomon includes a substantial toe cap and enough cushioning underfoot for hauling a pack. I found the fit runs narrow in the toe box. But the good news is that the low-top GTX version is now offered in wide sizes.

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These may not be your long-distance or ultra-rugged hiking shoes, but there is a lot to like about Merrell’s flagship Moab 2. What’s made this shoe so popular over the years? A lightweight but planted feel, a comfortable fit, and an attractive price point. Merrell updated the Moab a couple of years ago, including a more durable upper and great cushioning in the heel of the footbed. But the formula largely remains the same. For day hikers sticking to established trails, the Moab 2 is a great value.

In terms of downsides, on rocky and muddy trails, I found that traction and stability fall short of a performance shoe, like the Salomon X ULTRA 3. And despite a competitive 1-pound 15-ounce weight for a pair, the shoe feels a little slow and cumbersome compared with some lighter models. But these are small complaints about an otherwise fantastic shoe, and I highly recommend the Moab 2 for day hikes and lightweight backpacking. Keep in mind that I included the non-waterproof “Vent” here. But Merrell also makes a waterproof version that costs $120 and weighs slightly more at 2 pounds 1 ounce per pair.

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Running-centric brand Altra is an uber-popular option for thru-hikers and minimalists, with a strong lineup of heavily cushioned yet lightweight shoes. Their flagship trail runner is the Lone Peak. And for fall of 2019, Altra released the 4.5. Changes include an upgraded midsole and simplified upper and lacing system, but the formula largely remains the same. In use, I found that the Lone Peak is decently tough, provide solid traction, and the thick cushioning isolates you from harsh impacts underfoot.

Given its low weight of just 1 pound 5 ounces per pair, the Lone Peak is a consistent favorite on AT and PCT. There are a few important things to keep in mind when choosing a trail running shoe, like the Altra Loan Peak for hiking. First, you get less protection at the toe and along the sides of the foot than more hiking-centric shoes on this list. Second, the shoe flexes more than a traditional hiker and won’t be as comfortable on steep climbs and over rocky terrain. Third, the Lone Peak has a wide fit, particularly in the toe box. If you have narrow feet, I recommend looking for a different trail runner, such as the Brooks Cascadia.

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Comparison table

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The La Sportiva TX4 certainly isn’t a traditional pick, but boy do I love this shoe. It’s built as an approach shoe, which means that it’s grippy and tough for long hikes to climbing objectives or traveling over steep rocky terrain. The Vibram outsole, full rubber rand, and smooth area of sticky rubber under the toe make it a great option for scrambling, smearing, and edging on rock. But what I’ve been impressed with most is its versatility. The TX4 does equally well moving fast on the trail with its light and moderately flexible construction. I even like it for everyday use due to its high level of comfort and attractive design.

As with most approach shoes, the La Sportiva TX4 does have limitations. The dotty tread grips exceptionally well on wet and dry rock and even impressed us with traction on snow, but it will fall short of a true hiking shoe in dirt and mud. Further, some hikers, mostly those of the fast and light variety, might find that the stiffer sole feels clunky and inflexible. But overall, don’t be dissuaded by the approach shoe label. The TX4 is a worthy companion for long days on the trail. And keep in mind that the La Sportiva does make this shoe in a number of versions, including the mesh TX3, which has more breathability, up to the burly TX5, which is a full-on hiking boot.

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The North Face may list the Ultra 110 GTX as a trail running shoe, but I think it checks all the boxes for a quality lightweight hiker. It has a stable platform, good foot protection, and durable construction. We were big fans of the old Ultra 109 GTX, and the 110 addresses our primary complaint: tread life. Whereas the 109 wore down in less than one season of use, the updated rubber is much more aggressive, and it’s holding up far better on the rocky and rough trails of the Cascade Range.

One of the Ultra 110’s closest competitor is the Salomon X ULTRA 3. The North Face shoe is a little stiffer and more stable in technical terrain, grips just as well as the Salomon, and undercuts its price by $30. On the other hand, the Ultra 110 weighs 2 ounces more per shoe and feels a little clunky by comparison. In the end, I give the slight edge to the nimbler X ULTRA 3, but The North Face has a real winner in the Ultra 110 GTX.

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New Releases

So that sums up our top hiking shoes. I hope you enjoyed. If you did, please leave a comment on the blog post. Until next time. Have a great day.