Gear

The Best Hiking Boots For Men

June 17, 2019 by

As the seasons begin to turn warm, it is time to get out and hit the trails. But first, you will need the best hiking shoes you can get so that you can hike longer, further, and in comfort. There are different types of hiking boots and shoes, and it is crucial that you understand your specific needs when it comes to making the perfect choice.

How to Choose a Hiking Boot

There are so many options of hiking boots on the market that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming when it comes to figuring out which shoes are the best choice. When you begin searching for your new hiking boots, there are some specific criteria that you can look for to ensure that you find the perfect fit. The following are a few of the more crucial characteristics that make up a quality hiking boot.

Materials

When it comes to durability and comfort, you want to make sure that your boots are made of high quality materials that allow enough air to keep your feet cool during warm weather, but not too thin to let moisture in. Hiking boots are made out of a variety of materials, and each one has its own benefits and disadvantages. Keep in mind what kind of terrain you will be hiking before you make your choice. The following are a few of the more popular materials for hiking boots:

  • Synthetic Materials – Such as nylon or polyester. Lightweight, more flexible, but less water resistant.
  • Split-Grain Leather – A half and half blend of leather and synthetic materials. Breathable, but not as durable or water resistant.
  • Full-Grain Leather – Very durable and water resistant. However, much heavier and does not allow for much airflow.

Fit

As the day wears on, it is normal for your feet to swell. This is even more true when you are out on a hiking adventure. When fitting your boots, ensure that you have enough room in the toe of the boot to prevent cramping. This could mean buying a size larger than you normally would.

With your foot pressed all the way to the front of the boot, you should be able to fit a finger in between the back of the boot and your heel. Of course, if there is too much room, that is also a problem. Again, the one finger width is the general goal that you should aim for when finding the right fit for a boot.

Styles

You should have a clear idea in your head of what kind of hiking you will be doing before you go in to purchase a pair of boots. This is especially important when you are choosing between the different styles of hiking boots that are available:

  • Trail – For maintained trails. Lightweight, stiffer soles, better traction.
  • Rough Trail – For more variable terrain. More flexible soles that are still rigid enough to protect your feet from the rocky path. Lightweight.
  • Off Trail – High durability, rigid soles, waterproof. Generally made of full grain leather.
  • Mountain – Tall boots that are waterproof, provide traction, and added insulation. Generally made of full grain leather that will require more time to break in before you can hit the trails, but will last a long time.

The top 5 hiking boots are…

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boots

These lightweight boots are made with Gore-Tex membranes that work to both increase airflow and keep your feet dry. The Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boots are a leather and synthetic blend mid-height shoe and are equipped with a thick tread to make tackling uneven terrain a breeze. These boots are great for tougher terrains, but may prove too heavy for lighter trails or for the hiker looking for a lighter, more nimble form of boot.

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • Great tread
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Cushioned comfort
  • Allows for ample air flow

Cons:

  • Too stiff for less intensive trails
  • Pricier

Check price on Amazon

Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boot

These full leather grain hiking boots are tall with a padded collar around the top of the boot to increase ankle comfort. The thick rubber sole is perfect for grasping rocky and uneven terrains, and the boot is completely waterproof. Timberland has also installed a removable EVA inner sole that is meant to provide more airflow, however, as a solid leather hiking boot, these will definitely keep your feet warmer than a synthetic or synthetic blend.

Pros:

  • High quality leather
  • Solid rubber sole
  • Great tread
  • Waterproof
  • Padded collar and tongue for comfort
  • Less expensive than similar boots
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Heavy and stiff
  • Less airflow

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Merrell Capra Bolt Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

In the Capra Bolt, Merrell offers a mid-height synthetic hiking boot with a solid rubber sole that is good for light to medium terrains travel. The synthetic material means these boots are lightweight and highly breathable, but will have less waterproof capability than a pair of leather or leather blend boots. They are also less durable than a solid leather boot, but great for fast, flexible movement on the trails.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable synthetic material
  • Solid rubber sole
  • Moderate tread
  • Impact resistant internal soles
  • Sweat resistant

Cons:

  • Less waterproof capability
  • Less durable
  • Pricier

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KEEN Oakridge Waterproof Shoe

These low height hiking boots are a blend of synthetic materials and leather that are extremely lightweight and perfect for trail running or light terrain. The leather provides a degree of waterproof reliability to the boot, and the synthetic underlay makes them breathable, which will keep your feet cool and dry. The inner EVA sole is removable and can be washed to keep your boots fresh and clean.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Solid rubber sole
  • Moderate tread
  • Breathable material
  • Removable and washable inner sole
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Pricier
  • Not good for rougher terrains

Check price on Amazon

Vasque Summit Gore-Tex Waterproof Backpacking Boot

These highly durable, full leather grain hiking boots offer superior waterproof capabilities, excellent tread, firm rubber soles, and increased stability overall. Vasque crafts their boots to offer stable, nylon support in the heel and midfoot to increase stability, while the forefoot is left to take advantage of this boot’s high flexibility. These boots are the perfect choice for highly variable and rough terrains, but are much heavier and less breathable than synthetic and synthetic blend boots.

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Solid rubber sole
  • Great tread
  • High waterproof capabilities
  • Flexible forefoot material
  • High quality leather

Cons:

  • Pricier
  • Heavy, not ideal for light trails
  • Less breathable

Check price on Amazon

The Advantages of a Good Hiking Boot

On average, a quality pair of hiking boots will cost you more than a simpler pair of tennis shoes. Both provide protection for your feet, so why bother going through the trouble? There are a number of reasons why hiking boots are superior to tennis shoes for the intrepid explorer looking to take to the trails, including:

1. Tread. Hiking boots are built with a higher degree of tread that will give your feet a better grip when it comes to navigating steep and/or rocky slopes. Uneven surfaces are no match for a powerful tread, and the average tennis or running shoe cannot offer the same degree of quality.

2. Support. Nearly all hiking boots will provide a greater degree of support and stability for your feet when you are going out on rocky trails and uneven mountain paths. This is because hiking boots are specifically developed for handling rougher terrain. Furthermore, the sturdier materials that hiking boots are made from provide a higher durability that will ensure your boots can last for many hikes to come, unlike the thinner material of tennis shoes.

3. Water-Resistance. Split- and full-grain hiking boots are equipped to shrug off water and allow for even more varied hiking opportunities. Tennis and running shoes will leave your feet soaked if they come into contact with water. It is an easy comparison.

Break in Your Boots

Before you leap out onto the trails in your new boots, makes sure that you take some time beforehand to break them in. Whether you purchase a synthetic or full leather pair, it never hurts to slip them on and make sure that your hiking boots are more pliable before you actually take them hiking.

Conclusion

The winner of the hiking boot category is a two-way tie between the rough terrain, full grain leather Vasque Summit Gore-Tex Waterproof Backpacking Boot and the split grain leather, lightweight, trail perfect KEEN Oakridge Waterproof Shoe.

The Vasque Summit Gore-Tex Waterproof Backpacking Boot is the ideal choice for the intrepid hiker or mountaineer who is looking for a high quality, fully waterproof leather hiking boot that can conquer any hill and last for years. A split grain boot could work for rough terrains as well, but nothing will provide the same degree of durability and support as a great pair of leather boots that Vasque has crafted. These boots will require a little extra time to break in, but it will be time well spent.

The KEEN Oakridge Waterproof Shoe is ideal for the opposite reason of the Vasque hiking boot: the KEEN boot is super lightweight, and yet still offers a good degree of waterproof capability as well as a moderate amount of tread that will allow the determined trail runner or hiker the support and grip he or she needs. While these boots are not built for more uneven and rocky terrains, they are still an exceptionally solid shoe for the price and they will not require too much time to break in before you can slip them on and hit the trails.

When it comes to choosing the best hiking shoe, make sure that you keep in mind the type of hiking you want to do so that you can make the most educated choice to fit your needs.